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Julie Pech
(DoE) 98425760

Torbay catchment planting day a huge success go to index

Our planting efforts on the last Saturday in July left us weary but very pleased with ourselves! Twenty three people, most living in Torbay catchment, turned out to plant two waterways demonstration sites on South Coast Highway. We planted 4,500 seedlings, a mixture of 14 local native wetland species.

Luck with the weather held out just until we were finishing up. What a great effort, and all done by 3.00 pm! Thanks to Sunita and Sandra for organising an awesome lunch spread for the hungry planters.

The plantings were part of two projects - an artificial wetland constructed on P. Marshall's property designed to reduce nutrient transport from a small agricultural catchment area and rehabilitation work carried out along half a kilometre of eroding stream on G. Martin's property, designed to promote waterways best management practices. The artificial wetland has two connected ponds. Catchment runoff flows into the first pond, and slows enough for suspended sediment to drop out. The accumulated sediment will be removed every few years. Water then flows through a perforated rock bund into the second pond, vegetated with 17,000 sedge plants. This pond will form the wetland nutrient filter. Sedges are fantastic at taking up phosphorus from the water and sediment. A "bio-film" of bacteria covering the sedges will utilise nitrogen in the water. It will take two to three years before the nutrient uptake function of the plants in the wetland is optimum. From time to time the sedges will be harvested, so that new plant growth will continue to take out the nutrients entering the wetland.

Martin's stream has been fenced to exclude stock and stock crossings and rock riffles have been constructed. Spraying, ripping and mounding was carried out to increase the survival chances of the 2,250 local native fringing wetland species which were planted.

CD available

Steve Janeke
(DoE) 9841 0114

South coast inlets captured on CD go to index

Our unique south coast inlets are celebrated in a new CD which covers 36 estuaries from Hardy Inlet (Augusta) in the west to the Esperance Lakes in the east. One, or more often two aerial photographs are provided for each inlet as well as basic facts about the waterways. Apart from raising awareness of the beauty and variety of the inlets, it is hoped that the pictures will serve as a record of the state of the inlets at the start of the twentyfirst century, for comparison in future years.

The CD is available free from the Department of Environment office in Albany.

Dave Weaver (Ag)
Nutrient analysis laboratory opened in Albany go to index

The laboratory is the result of a partnership between the University of Western Australia, the Agriculture Department and the Department of Environment, and will be managed by the Centre of Excellence in Natural Resource Management. The co-managers are Craig Russell and Dave Weaver.

The lab will be used by local catchment groups, individuals and businesses and would be more cost-effective and faster than sending samples to Perth. It is expected that the ability to determine phosphorus and nitrogen concentrations locally will enhance the monitoring of south coast waterways and contribute to the work already being done to minimise nutrient loss from farms and algal blooms in rivers and estuaries.

CD available

report available

Benson Todd
(DoE) 9841 0119

Gordon-Frankland Catchment Compendium go to index

The Department of Environment has just completed the Gordon-Frankland Catchment Compendium, the latest publication in the Water Resource Management Series. The compendium is a synthesis of the information known about the Gordon-Frankland river system, designed to provide information to community groups, landholders, land managers, local governments and people with a general interest in the river and its catchment.

The book was produced for the Gillamii Landcare Centre and landholders in the Gordon-Frankland catchment, jointly funded by DoE and the Natural Heritage Trust. It documents a wide range of information, from the river's headwaters near Broomhill and Tambellup to the Walpole and Nornalup Inlets and the Southern Ocean.

The compendium will help to increase community knowledge of waterway management issues, facilitate the prioritisation of on-ground works and future research and aid community groups in completing funding applications. It will also provide a record of the current condition of the Gordon-Frankland River and can be used as a benchmark to monitor change.

Printed copies of the report are available at shire libraries within the catchment, at the Gillamii Landcare Centre or from DoE's Albany office. A CD based on the compendium is also available from DoE.

Gary English (SCRIPT)
$5 million for natural resource management go to index

The funds will drive management activities in the Lake Warden, Upper Kalgan, Bremer River and West River catchments to address critical land, water, marine and biodiversity issues. These catchments encompass some of the most significant assets in the south coast region, and have existing catchment plans supported by local communities who are keen to use the money to implement the plans.

report available

Department of Water
9842 5760

Wilson Inlet Catchment Compendium available go to index

In 1996, community members in the Wilson Inlet catchment area raised the concern that research and information on the catchment was not readily available. To overcome this, the Wilson Inlet Catchment Compendium has been compiled by the former Water and Rivers Commission, the Land and Water Resources Research and Development Corporation (LWRRDC) and the Murray Darling Basin Commission. It contains a wealth of information main environmental issues and landcare in the catchment, including:

  • The storage and mobility of nutrients in soils and waterways.
  • The amount and speed of water leaving the catchment.
  • How land use and management impact on eutrophication.

Easy to use fact sheets in the compendium relate to the whole of the Wilson Inlet catchment. It is intended to be a living document and has been written so that sections can be added, modified or replaced. The compendium is provided to schools, community groups and agencies as well as local libraries so that it is available for everyone to use. Copies are also available from the Department of Environment office in Denmark.

report available

Department of Water
9842 5760

Oldfield River history go to index

A study recently completed by the Department of Environment, the Oldfield Landcare Group and the Natural Heritage Trust has uncovered a wealth of interesting historical information. The survey collected historical data on the Oldfield and Munglinup Rivers from interviews with many of the settlers in the region.

Angela Sanders was contracted to capture the social aspects of river management in the Oldfield Catchment. She found that landholders had established many and varied connections to their river. Stories included how the land was cleared, first impressions of the Oldfield River and some of the special spots where families visited on weekends. People used the river for picnics, swimming lessons, and sometimes depended upon the fish they caught in the river as their main source of food. The survey also collected some interesting anecdotal information on floods, changes to water quality, changes to the river's course and important recreational sites.

Mr Ralph Silburn, a settler of the district, indicated the changes he had seen take place over the years in and around the river. He told of how his family had settled the land, how they had used the river as an important recreational area and how thousands of fish died when the river flooded three times in one year.

The Oldfield Landcare Group had previously recognised the importance of their river from an historical and cultural perspective. The group believed that in many cases, history and culture were the driving forces behind the landholders protecting their waterways.

The information collected from the landholders will be provided to the Battye Library and the interviews have been collated to form a report entitled "Stories of the Oldfield River".

report available

Department of Water
9842 5760

Survey of creeks in the Torbay catchment go to index

Seven Mile Creek is in a better condition than Five Mile Creek, but both have foreshore sections that require restoration work according to a report launched recently in the Torbay Catchment. The report will be a useful and informative document for landholders and agencies. It can be used to identify priority areas for management and will assist in securing funds to help protect the Five and Seven Mile Creek foreshores.

The Department of Environment and Torbay Catchment Group are offering funding for fencing and revegetation to help look after these foreshores and improve the quality of water flowing into the Catchment's receiving waterbodies.

The report indicated that Seven Mile Creek is a waterway of outstanding quality, with 43 per cent of the riparian zone having an A-grade or pristine status. Five Mile Creek had only five per cent of its riparian zone categorised as pristine. Thirteen per cent of both creeks have already been fenced, leaving 17 kilometres of Seven Mile Creek and 12 kilometres of Five Mile Creek to fence. Each creek would benefit from at least 14 hectares of foreshore revegetation.

Improved management of the region's waterways would have many long term benefits. The foreshore vegetation plays an important role in stabilising banks, reducing sediment loss downstream and absorbing nutrients from catchment runoff. Lake Powell, Marbellup Brook and Torbay Inlet all suffer from seasonal toxic algal blooms as a result of high nutrient levels stored in sediments and entering the waterbodies from catchment runoff. Nitrogen and phosphorus enter the waterways in soluble forms from fertiliser runoff or attached to soil particles from eroding stream banks. Improvement in the health of our waterways can only occur when foreshore protection is combined with appropriate rates and timing of fertiliser applications throughout the catchment.

Funding for the survey was provided by the Water and Rivers Commission. Bob Gretton carried out the survey work while Green Skills Inc. prepared the final report.

Department of Water
9842 5760
Phoslock shows promise go to index

A joint project between the Department of Environment, Swan River Trust and CSIRO Land and Water aimed to reduce the available phosphorus that feeds algal blooms in Marbellup Brook.

The modified clay, known as PhosLock, was applied to a section of the Brook in April 2000. When applied to the surface of the water, PhosLock strips the water of phosphorus as it sinks. It then binds with phosphorus released from sediment at the bottom of the river, making the phosphorus unavailable for use by the algae.

Department of Environment environmental officer Petrina Raitt reported on the success of the Marbellup Brook PhosLock trial at the August 2000 meeting of the Torbay Catchment Group. The objectives of the trial were to reduce phosphorus in the water column, as well as to capture the phosphorus being released from bottom sediments; it proved successful for both objectives.

Low levels of phosphorus were measured in the water column over the one month monitoring period following the application. The Phoslock continued to work once settled on the bottom by adsorbing phosphorus recycling out of the bottom sediments that would otherwise be available to feed algal blooms. The Department of Environment is seeking funding from industry to allow a more extensive trial in Marbellup Brook in the coming summer.

After the PhosLock trial ended an algal bloom occurred in Lake Powell and Marbellup Brook as a result of phosphorus-rich runoff entering the system following heavy rains, combined with uncontrolled seawater flow into the trial area caused by high tidal movement from Torbay Inlet. The algal bloom that developed following the trial emphasised the need to reduce nutrients entering our waterways. Nutrient inputs can be reduced through appropriate timing and rates of fertiliser applications, and by increasing the coverage of protective foreshore vegetation along waterways.

The Torbay Catchment Group has funds available to landholders to assist with waterways fencing and revegetation.

Department of Water
9842 5760
Dalyup and West Dalyup: 53 kilometres of fencing to go go to index

A recent foreshore survey of the Dalyup and West Dalyup Rivers showed that only 53 kilometres of fencing is required to fence the West River, Dalyup River and the major tributary draining into the Dalyup River.

The main Dalyup River system flows for approximately 54 kilometres from the township of Scaddan to Lake Gore. The West Dalyup River, a major tributary of the Dalyup River, flows 45 kilometres before meeting the Dalyup River 8 kilometres upstream of Lake Gore. Lake Gore covers 738 hectares and supports in excess of 20 000 water birds each year.

The survey results indicated:

  • most sections of the Dalyup River were fenced, although considerable fences were lost during the 1999/2000 floods
  • 53 kilometres (separating the sides of the river) is required to complete the fencing of the Dalyup and West Dalyup River and the major tributary
  • 34% of the vegetation surveyed along the river was in A grade condition, 41% in B grade, 14% in C grade and 10% in D grade
  • a fencing program alone would have considerable benefits for protecting the Dalyup and West Dalyup River
  • Some areas graded C and D condition required considerable revegetation and erosion control in addition to fencing
  • loss of riparian vegetation, erosion and sedimentation, salinity, weed invasion as some of the major issues impacting the health of the river system and Lake Gore
  • salinity and stock access are the major threats to the biodiversity and environmental value of the vegetation alongside the river systems.

Many landholders expressed interest in doing further work to protect the rivers, however time and funding were seen as the biggest barriers to implementing further on-ground work. There were a number of landholders who had already begun re-fencing sections of the river, and were placing the fences further back from the main channel in an attempt to ensure the fences survived the next floods.

The results of the foreshore survey are being incorporated into the Dalyup River Action Plan currently being developed by the Department of Environment.

Department of Water
9842 5760
Princess Royal Harbour nutrient audit go to index

An audit of nutrient inputs into Princess Royal Harbour for the year 2000 has provided mixed news - nutrient inputs into the harbour have increased, but this is only likely to be a temporary set back. The recently completed audit showed that the nutrient inputs in 2000 were at the highest levels recorded since 1993, and that the increase was the result of industrial discharges. Industry discharges more than doubled between 1999 and 2000, with contributions from Wesfarmers CSBP, Vital Food and Princess Royal Seafoods all having increased.

The figures for 2000 are disappointing, particularly given the gradual improvements made by industry during the 1990s. Recent experience has led us to expect continuing reductions in nutrient inputs, but the latest audit shows this trend is not automatic. The audit results remind everyone that improvements only occur through concerted effort and commitment. The figures emphasise the need for agencies and the community not to become complacent about the state of our harbours.

In 1990 the Environmental Protection Authority recommended target nutrient levels for industry and other sources, after research in the 1980s had confirmed that excess phosphorous and nitrogen were the cause of algae growth and seagrass losses in Albany harbours. Nutrient inputs have been monitored in the past decade to assess the effectiveness of actions taken to address the issue. The monitoring has confirmed reductions in nutrient inputs, resulting from the closure of the King Point sewage discharge site and better management of industrial waste.

The Albany Waterways Management Authority has regularly communicated with the Environmental Protection Authority, to stress the importance of reducing industrial discharge to Princess Royal Harbour. AWMA Chairman Delma Baesjou considers the 2000 audit results might be considered by some to be disappointing, but the Authority recognises that connection to the sewer can take time to arrange and fund.

These negative results can be reversed as industry connects to the sewer, and the AWMA is encouraging businesses to take this step as soon as possible. Princess Royal Seafoods has recently connected, and it is a realistic possibility for the other two major industries in the immediate future. Eventually there should be no industrial discharge into the harbour.

As a result of Princess Royal Seafoods connection to sewer, the 2001 audit is expected to record a reduction in nutrient inputs to the harbour.

Department of Water
9842 5760
Drain restoration projects for Torbay drainage district near completion go to index

The planting of nearly 2000 native plants, sedges and rushes in August completed site works at three drain restoration demonstration projects in the Albany drainage district. The projects promote waterways best management practices and are funded and supported by the Department of Environment, the Coast and Clean Seas program of the Natural Heritage Trust and the Water Corporation.

The drain projects complement catchment works undertaken by Torbay and Wilson Inlet Catchment group including fencing and revegetation of drains and waterways. The objective of these projects is to improve water quality of the coastal water bodies such as the Wilson and Torbay Inlets.

In-stream works have included placement of rocks in the drain channel to create rocky riffles. These oxygenate the water at low flow and improve water conditions for native fish and macroinvertebrates. The rocks also form a series of pools and rapids that provide habitat for aquatic fauna. Importantly the riffles won't impede high flow levels and so affect the performance of the drain.

At two sites, sections of the drain banks have been covered with fibre matting to stabilise the banks. The matting will help the native plants get established by acting as a mulch to suppress weeds and retain moisture. Once established, the native vegetation will help stabilise the banks and reduce erosion and sedimentation downstream. The taller plants will also help shade the water reducing summer temperatures and improving living conditions for aquatic fauna.

The work at these sites is experimental so only small sections of each drain have been treated. Water quality at each site is regularly tested to monitor any changes and improvements that occur.

The Department of Environment and the Torbay Catchment Group would like to hear from landholders who may be interested in carrying out improvements on drains that run through their property.

printed material available

Department of Water
9842 5760

Local wetlands come alive in colourful leaflets go to index

To continue with the theme of information and awareness raising of our unique south coast wetlands, four glossy brochures have recently been released as part of the WRC/Green Skills Regional Wetland program. These leaflets will be part of an information package that combines resource material produced through Department of Environment, and will be made available at workshops and other events.

The leaflets have been produced in response to the lack of specific information available on south coast wetlands. Three of the brochures focus on locations within our region identified as priority areas with high value wetlands - The Pabelup wetlands near Bremer Bay, the Corimup wetlands at Manypeaks and the Unicup wetlands of the Upper Kent River. The fourth brochure is more detailed and focuses on wetlands of the region in general.

It is anticipated that if future NHT funding is successful, other specific leaflets will be produced for areas such as the special wetlands of Esperance, Mills Lake and Owingup swamp.