See wise ways with water

Picture of  backyard with fish pond

There was once an old adage ‘out of sight out of mind’. So it was when we used to stand in the driveway hosing away the dirt and grime.

As a community we now appreciate that storm water pollution threatens the very integrity of our beautiful rivers, carrying toxic pollutants into our precious waterways. Paint, grass clippings, fallen leaves and dog droppings simply don’t belong in the drain. A flush of these harmful organic nutrients can pollute our lakes and cause nasty algae blooms.

With innovative urban water management practices there are exciting ways we can reclaim this resource to reduce environmental impacts, in doing so creating vibrant communities living in harmony with our aquatic ecosystems.

The combined Australian Government and ACT Government Healthy Waterways initiative is seeing the construction of exciting urban wetlands, ponds, rain gardens and other infrastructure designed to filter nutrients and sediments away from our urban waterways. Over $90 million will be spent. It will improve the amenity of many local suburbs. It’s an investment in our ecological future.

Through this initiative a grass roots project has been designed to demonstrate the many different ways individuals can make a real difference to improve the health of our waterways, while also creating stunning focal points for their gardens.

ACT Government has partnered with Open Gardens Canberra to host two delightful tours so you can see first-hand how others have re-configured their gardens to make better use of water, to minimise contaminated run-off and to ensure that only rain goes down the storm water drain.

The tour is about sharing the lessons leant, the experiences, the insights gained as part of a wonderful show and tell open day.

Geographically dispersed, these projects successfully demonstrate wonderful ideas such as rain gardens, mulching systems, downpipe disconnection, nature strip treatments and, for rural areas, erosion control.

People’s imagination and creativity has been quite amazing. A free courtesy bus will leave Dame Pattie Menzies Building in Dickson at 8.45 am on Saturday 2 June and Sunday 17 June to showcase the different properties. A packed lunch will be provided for those on the bus and you will be at each open garden for approximately 45 minutes.

You can also make your own way to the respective open gardens. For a full list of the remarkable open gardens and more information on how to secure your spot on a bus journey towards healthy waterway enlightenment visit

Brett Mac

Brett McNamara - Regional Manager with ACT Parks & Conservation Service

Brett loves our national parks almost as much as the Gang-gang on his uniform. He is prone to using the word 'majestic' when referring to the bush capital. He loves talking. A lot. His favourite animal is the playful platypus.

Article also appeared on 29 May in The Chronicle