SACTCG Waterwatch group profile
Julie Marriott and family and Vera Kurz have been an active Waterwatch team for a few years. They keep a close eye on a system of artificial ponds known as the ‘Conder Wetlands’.
The wetlands are at the top on Tom Roberts Avenue in Conder, one of the southern most suburbs in Canberra. The wetlands and the associated creek are unique in Tuggeranong in that they do not form a typical concrete drain but rather a series of earthen overflows with a small channel running down the centre. This allows vegetation to become established close to the waterway providing habitat for birds and other wildlife, unlike usual stormwater drains. The ponds have attracted permanent flocks of coots, moorhens and ducks, as well as a healthy population of frogs. Kangaroos used to have a strong presence as well. Their numbers have dropped but they are still regular visitors to the area, heading up hill from Lanyon High School shortly before the students turn up in the morning.
Fortunately a road that was originally planned to cut across the site of the wetlands was decided against due its potential impact on the local wildlife.
Julie and her family have lived close to the ponds since 1998. They have seen some dramatic events in that time, including a flood that turned the wetlands into one big fast moving river three years ago. In 2005 and 2006 Julie and her family were part of a major tree planting program in the area. The request for water monitoring volunteers came around that time from Dr Skinner (now at Molonglo Catchment Group) and Julie took up the challenge. Vera joined Julie six months later. Julie’s boys; Luke, Daniel and Nate have been give the ominous task of capturing and removing mosquito fish, a wide spread and destructive pest, from the ponds as often as they can.
The water quality data Julie and Vera have submitted suggests that urban wetlands have a beneficial effect on water flowing from suburban streets. In contrast with Wanniassa and Village Creeks, neither of which host any pond structures and consist almost entirely of open concrete drains or underground pipes, Conder Wetland’s nutrient levels seem to be consistently lower. This result in lower nutrient inflows into recreational waterways downstream is important for a host of reasons, not least of which is lowering the risk of blue green algal blooms.