SACTCG Waterwatch Winter 2023 Catchment Update

The view from Coordinator’s desk

Rainfall statistics courtesy of Bureau of Meteorology

The wet years of La Nina oficially came to an end in March. Below are the monthly rainfall figures for last winter in case you’re in doubt.
Some good news is the slower flows lend themselves to clearer rivers and the Waterwatch reports reflected this with most sites showing low turbidity levels.
This winter our ranks grew with more new people joining and happily no one retiring. I hope you enjoy this Winter Catchment Update.

Volunteer update


New folk joining Waterwatch over Winter include Andrew Bajkowski who found us at the ACT Volunteering Expo. Andrew is heading out with family and friends to help Sarah at Guises Flat Farm. Madison Barancewicz investigated joining Waterwatch as a volunteer after doing Mr McGillivray’s unit at Alfred Deakin High School where Waterwatch is embedded in the curriculum . Although still a high school student, she has taken on the huge challenge of monitoring the remote Orroral River. Another highly motivated high school student, Lily Piper adopted two sites at Isabella Pond and two more in the storm water channels that feed it. We welcome aboard these two spirited young persons (and their very supportive dads.)

Around the Rivers and Creeks

Jill Smith at Paddy’s River in July (Photo: M .Blume)

Namadgi National Park creeks had masses of EPT bug with more diversity in the downstream parts than higher up, probably as a result of bugs being flushed downstream from all the rain. The Naas river in the national park had lots of very sensitive bugs along with freshwater sponges, something I rarely see.
Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve scored the highest diversity of all. But this was mostly tough bugs in the wetlands. Caught were 13 orders including pea clams and gordian worms. The Orroral river was inaccessible over autumn.

Around the Lakes and ponds

The Old Dam in July (Photo: H. Govey)

Nutrient loads were an issue in Lake Tuggeranong despite the reduced flows. High nitrates flowed in from the north and a strange yellow slick was seen at the other end near South Quay. Phosphorus and nitrates were also recorded flowing into and building up in Isabella Pond. Point Hut and Stranger Ponds were largely spared from this. The Waterwatch team at Point Hut Ponds heard Peron’s Tree frogs calling in July.
The dams on Cooleman Ridge saw the return of high phosphorus loads (not seen for a year) and the Old Dam continued to smothered by floating azolla ferns.

Around Tidbinbilla and Namadgi

Pond 4 Tidbinbilla Sanctuary in July (with ‘Ripper” showing off)

Twenty pigs dashed between the groups of Brindabella Venturers as they walked in to do their Waterwatching in the Namadgi National Park. Lots of pig damage also appeared in the creeks. Access to once forested sites has become tricky due to the threat of falling branches from dead trees. Of the reduced flows Michaela said Little Dry Creek is still not dry but it is getting more and more ‘little’!  

At Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve Pond 4 was full with lots of frogs calling, platypus sightings and minimal algae, but the water level had dropped in the river and smaller creeks. Thanks to Madison, the Orroral river got a health check (all clear btw) for the first time this year.

Around the schools

St Jude’s Primary students (Photo provided by school)

Last winter Waterwatch provided educational activities to Chisholm High School’s Aboriginal Group at Jerrabomberra Wetlands, St Jude’s Primary School Yr 4s at Holder Wetlands and Melba Copland High School’s Yr 10s. In addition the coordinator mentored two high school students in research projects as part of the ACT Science Mentors Program. Training in Waterwatch activities was also provided to the camp leaders at Outward Bound in Tharwa.

A huge thank you to all. Keep up the great work!


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