Waterwatch

Waterwatch Australia is an initiative to help us understand, monitor, care for and sustainably manage our most precious natural asset – water. It is a network of citizen scientists that monitor local waterways – it could be a creek, pond, lake, dam, wetland, lagoon or estuary. Waterwatch programs support communities to monitor the health of waterways; to learn through environmental education, and to participate in projects to protect, rehabilitate or restore the health of our waterways. Since it began, Waterwatch has formed partnerships with the community, government and industry to begin to sustainably address many of the issues that affect water quality and the health of our waterways.

 

The Waterwatch program:

  • Engages the community in the environment through monitoring and caring for our catchments
  • Educates and raises awareness in schools and the community on issues concerning catchment health
  • Uses data collected by volunteers to inform policy and on ground catchment management.

 

Find out more about Waterwatch in Canberra here.

 

Stefan, Sam and Micheala bugging

Upper Murrumbidgee Waterwatch (UMWW)

UMWW is a program of volunteers who look out for the health of the waterways of the most of Upper Murrumbidgee catchment in the Murray Darling Basin(MDB). In the Southern ACT, ‘Waterwatchers’ monitor the health of the diverse range of waterways in our region. They measure water quality monthly and have the opportunity to assist with spring and autumn water bug counts and standardised Rapid Assessment of Riparian Condition (RARC) habitat assessments. Their work culminates to produce the Southern ACT Catchment Group’s contribution to the Upper Murrumbidgee Waterwatch’s ‘Catchment Health Indicator Program’ (CHIP) annual report.

The Waterwatch Coordinator

Southern ACT Catchment Group employs a part-time Waterwatch Coordinator, funded by the ACT Government. Our Waterwatch Coordinator supports the Waterwatch volunteers with resources, training, collecting, sorting and passing on volunteer collated data; as well as publicising activities of volunteers and increasing public awareness of water health issues. They also support waterways education in the catchment: presenting schools visits on waterway issues, and contributing to holiday education programs associated with Community Libraries and Community Centres.

Waterwatch Activities

Water quality monitoring

(Monthly): All eight major sub-catchments of the southern ACT are monitored for water quality by volunteers. This includes;

o   Murrumbidgee River o   Cotter River
o   Naas River o   Gudgenby River
o   Paddy’s River o   Lake Tuggeranong
o   Point Hut Ponds o   Guises Creek

In addition, the following are monitored as part of these catchment systems;

  • Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve
  • Namadgi National Park
  • Stranger Pond
  • Conder Wetlands
  • Cooleman Ridge Nature Park
  • Westwood Farm
  • Goodwin Village pond
  • Tuggeranong Creek Stormwater system
  • Other tributaries of the 5 major rivers

Volunteers upload data to the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) database by the end of the month. All water quality data uploaded by volunteers is cleared by the WW Coordinator by the end of the following month.

Abnormal water quality readings/events were reported to relevant agencies. 

Waterbug Surveying

(Autumn and Spring): SACTCG WW volunteers and school groups assist with the implementation of both the autumn and spring ‘Bug Blitz’ events.  Key waterbug sites in each of our reaches are monitored.

Waterway Habitat Assessments

(Biennially): Habitat assessments are conducted at all Waterwatch sites and data entered on the ALA.

 Platypus Surveys

(August): The WW Coordinator supervises four community group surveys which are conducted in August.

 Community engagement

(Monthly): Waterwatch contributions were provided to the SACTCG newsletter and other UMWW communications. Volunteers received emails from the WW Coordinator notifying them of sampling weekends (third weekend of the month) and Waterwatch news. ACT Healthy Waterways messages were promoted to volunteers and wider community where appropriate.

Community Events: Events are attended by the Waterwatch Coordinator where community participation and exposed to Waterwatch messages are included.

 Networking: Network events and meetings are attended promoting Waterwatch key messages.

 Partnerships: Partnerships are maintained with education, research and governmnt institutions locally and nationally to promote or implement Waterwatch initiatives.

 Education: The WW Coordinator also promotes and delivers Waterwatch education activities to children such as scouts etc. The coordinator collaborates with the other Waterwatch coordinators in the Upper Murrumbidgee Catchment to deliver education activities.

 Monitoring to action

Catchment health reporting: Data that has been collected on water quality, water bugs, RARC has been so in accordance with CHIP requirements. Information on things such as such as algae, frogs, fish and platypus is collected by our volunteers to enhance our contribution to the CHIP reports.

 Waterwatch projects : The WW coordinator advocates for improved community engagement, citizen science and improved infrastructure for catchment health at government and community workshops.

 

Upper Murrumbidgee Waterwatch is now available to provide field based education sessions with schools and youth groups. We have the personnel and equipment to provide hands-on, locally-based waterway education. We have nets, trays, buckets and water quality kits, pamphlets and storybooks designed to cover various freshwater topics.

Classes can range from simply fishing for water bugs with the junior kids, through to older grades conducting water quality and habitat assessments that can help to make linkages between our behaviours and river health. Classes are free, but limited, so book early to avoid missing out. Schools demonstrating alignment with broader curriculum requirements will be prioritised.

If a coordinator is not able to join the class in person, some extra, stand-alone education materials will soon be available on the Waterwatch website. There are also water quality and waterbug kits available to loan out.

For schools in Southern ACT, please contact Martin Lind at waterwatch@sactcg.org.au or on  0447 870 448 to see how we can work with you to achieve a great educational experience for your students.

For other areas of ACT and general information click here.