Businesses at Belmore Basin have had a dramatic downturn in trade since news of the sewage leak in Wollongong Harbour filtered through the community.
Bob Nonabel, owner of Nonabel takeaway, said his shop had recorded a 60 to 70per cent drop in customers this week.
‘‘Hardly anyone has come in since they heard about the leak,’’ he said.
‘‘My business depends on families coming to the harbour.’’
Manager of Harbourfront restaurant Chris Mead echoed Mr Nonabel’s sentiments. Only one small table was seated at 3pm yesterday, which Mr Mead blamed directly on the smell of the leak.
‘‘It’s a real turn-off to customers. They don’t want to come here if the place smells bad,’’ he said.
Mr Mead said the restaurant had been forced to keep their windows shut all week to block the smell.
‘‘It has been our quietest few days for as long as I can remember,’’ he said.
Mr Nonabel said he did not receive any official word from Sydney Water, Wollongong City Council or Crown Lands about the work going on, and only found out about the problem through newspaper reports.
‘‘It would have been nice for someone to tell us what was going on,’’ he said.
Despite a poor trading week, he said business picked up yesterday after reports in the Mercury and on local radio that the water was safe for swimming and did not pose major health risks.
He hoped people would come to the harbour for Australia Day celebrations.