By Dr Peter Gangemi - Mayor of The Hills Shire Council
Our sports fields are currently open for this weekend, however this is at the clubs’ discretion. Glenhaven Oval remains closed at this stage.
While it was great to have a break from the constant wet weather, rain is scheduled this weekend and may continue through to Tuesday. This could affect the availability of our sports fields, which have struggled to dry out, despite the handful of sunny days.
We’ve had a record amount of rain over the last four months. In fact, the running total for 2022, as of 9am on April 7, was 1226.8mm. This is nearly 200mm higher than the previous record (to this point in the year), which was 1044.0mm in 1956, according to Weatherzone. This has meant that our sportsfields cannot absorb any more water and are now waterlogged.
Council doesn’t make decisions to close fields lightly. These are usually made by 3pm on a week day and are determined by Council Officers after a thorough review. This takes into account safety and soil saturation, rather than the weather.
The consistent and unrelenting rain is also making it difficult for Council crews to maintain fields, including mowing and carrying out maintenance works, as the fields are too wet for Council machinery to be used safely and without them getting bogged in the grass.
Further to this, constant activity on wet fields also kills the grass and in winter, grass growth is slow. The damage this could cause may even require Council to shut fields so that repairs can be carried out – further impacting winter and then summer sports.
Council invests heavily in drainage and irrigation infrastructure for our sportsfields so that we can increase the recovery of our fields and allow more time for play. All of this has meant that the sportsfields across our region have been open and available more often than almost any other metropolitan council.
Council doesn’t like seeing its fields closed to club sport, but not using them for this minimal period will ensure they can continue to be used for the remainder of the winter season. They will also go on to be playable for our summer sports.