Project updates

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Swale&Applications open for new demonstration sites grants program

Urban and rural residents are invited to implement innovative and cost-effective stormwater management solutions on their blocks as part of a new grants program to establish a series of demonstration sites across the region.

The best solution to protecting our waterways is to manage water where it falls and to prevent stormwater washing pollutants like leaves, soil and litter down the drain. On rural properties, if runoff is not management it can cause soil and other nutrients to wash off blocks.

As part of the H2OK: Keeping our waterways healthy education program, grants of up to $3,000 for urban homeowners and $7,500 for rural residential owners (up to 40 hectares) in the ACT and surrounding region are available.

In the urban setting, examples of projects people can undertake including establishing rain gardens, disconnecting downpipes, installing rainwater tanks, treating the nature strip and introducing composting systems. For rural residential properties funding can be targeted for fencing to manage grazing impacts, preserving ground cover, addressing erosion, protecting and enhancing our waterways.

Learning from others is one of the best ways of achieving change in the way we manage stormwater runoff from residential sites. Working in collaboration with Canberra Open Gardens, grant recipients will showcase their initiatives through a series of open days sharing fascinating insights on best practice stormwater solutions with the broader community.

Eligible urban and rural residential properties need to be in the ACT or the Upper Murrumbidgee River catchment area of Queanbeyan–Palerang Regional Council, Yass Valley Council or Snowy Monaro Regional Council.

For more information on how to apply including eligibility criteria visit the Demonstration Sites Grants Program section of this website or call 6207 5584 (business hours only).

Applications close 4 pm Monday 29 May 2017.

Painting a picture to keep our waterways healthy

Keep It Clean drain artStormwater drains and infrastructure are about to come to life with colourful, provocative and creative artwork.

Expressions of interest are now open for local artists to participate in the innovative city DrainART initiative.

The project will see ten (10) stormwater drains in prominent spots along Genge Street and Garema Place through to City Walk in Civic painted to show how pollutants from the street - like rubbish, cigarette butts, leaves, chemicals and oil - wash down stormwater drains and impact the health of our local waterways.

The artwork will also help people visiting the Civic area make a clear and visual connection that what goes down those particular stormwater drains lead directly to Lake Burley Griffin, onto the Molonglo River and eventually downstream to the Murrumbidgee River.

All submitted designs will be assessed by a panel and the successful artist or group of artists will be provided with a $300 service grant per site once the artwork is complete.

For more details on the DrainART project, including how to apply, visit our dedicated DrainArt page.

Submissions must be received by 4 pm Friday 21 July 2017.

The city DrainART project will be the first of a number of DrainART initiatives rolled out across the region. Projects are also planned for Cooma, Yass and Queanbeyan. Partnerships through local high schools will also help spread the H2OK message.

The DrainART project is part of the H2OK: Keeping our waterways healthy education program.

Pulling the plug on carp

National Carp Control PlanAlmost four tonnes of carp have been removed from two ponds that feed into Lake Tuggeranong.

Ecologists from the Conservation Research branch of the ACT Government removed 1.6 tonnes of carp from Isabella Pond and 2.2 tonnes from Upper Stranger Pond.

Both ponds were drained in preparation for major works on the weir and to build two new wetlands. It offered an opportunity not just to remove and study the carp but also to test the methodology behind estimating carp populations in waterways.

“Any future control plan will rely heavily on being able to accurately estimate the numbers – not just in terms of choosing the right approach but also in managing the clean-up,” said aquatic ecologist, Matt Beitzel, thigh deep in the mud and sediment that was left behind after the ponds were drained.

Carp is an invasive pest species introduced into Australia more than a century ago and now widespread throughout the Murray-Darling Basin. Highly adaptable and with destructive feeding habits, carp have a detrimental effect on native aquatic plants, animals and general river health.

Once the fish were euthanised, a team of volunteers from The Green Army and the Waterwatchers of Southern Murrumbidgee weighed and measured the fish and removed 100 heads for further research.

“Later in the lab the ear bone (or ‘otolith’) will be examined to gather a range of data, including the age of the fish. This type of life cycle information is really important to our understanding and management of carp,” said Matt.

Upper Stranger Pond will refill naturally and will be re-stocked with native fish. Isabella Pond will remain empty for 12-18 months while the weir is widened and the wetlands are constructed. It too will then be re-stocked with natives.

The twin wetlands in Isabella Pond are one of three projects planned for the ponds as part of ACT Healthy Waterways, a joint Australian and ACT government initiative to build water quality infrastructure on up to 25 sites around the ACT. Later in the year work will begin on the naturalisation of a concrete channel feeding Isabella Pond and a rain garden beside Upper Stranger Pond.

The three infrastructure projects, combined with the carp eradication program, will help to improve water quality in the ponds, in Lake Tuggeranong, downstream in the Murrumbidgee River system and in the wider Murray-Darling Basin.

Work starts on water improvement projects

On Monday 27 March 2017, work began on a new project that will restore the natural environment of Isabella Pond, improve water quality in the Tuggeranong area and better prepare for rare flood events.

PondsThe Isabella Pond wetlands project is the first to be constructed as part of ACT Healthy Waterways, a joint initiative of the Australian and ACT governments to invest more than $80 million in the construction of water quality infrastructure on up to 25 sites across the ACT.

The area around Isabella Pond and Upper Stranger Pond will be fenced and water drained to allow for construction of the new wetlands which will attract birds and other native wildlife as well as play an important role in improving water quality downstream in Lake Tuggeranong, the Murrumbidgee River and the wider Murray-Darling Basin.

While Isabella and Upper Stranger ponds are drained, work will also be undertaken to upgrade Isabella Weir. This will bring the weir into line with national best practice guidelines and the recently introduced ACT Dam Safety Code. Tuggeranong Pond, downstream of Isabella Pond, will also need to be lowered during construction of the weir.  Tuggeranong Pond will not be emptied, but the level will be lowered by between one and two metres.

Draining of the ponds will also allow for the removal of carp, an introduced pest species.

In line with the project’s Construction Environment Management Plan and Aquatic Ecology Management Plan, fauna and flora that live in and around the ponds will be carefully managed during the project. Protocols will be in place to deal with any unexpected finds, from turtles or snakes to shopping trolleys. Any native species found while draining the ponds, for example Murray Cod, will be put into aerated water tanks and relocated to nearby Lake Tuggeranong. Water birds will relocate themselves and return when the work is completed.

Upper Stranger Pond will be allowed to refill once the carp have been removed but Isabella Pond will remain empty for 12-18 months to complete the weir upgrade and the construction of the wetlands.

Following the completion of all work the ponds will be restocked with native fish.

There will be minor disruption to off-peak traffic along Drakeford Drive during site establishment. For the duration of the project both ponds will be closed. Detours will be in place and clearly signposted for walkers and cyclists.

For more information about the upgrade of Isabella weir and construction of the wetlands is available on the Economic Development website.


Bugs key to waterway health

During Autumn volunteers all over the ACT and region will check the health of our waterways by collecting and analysing bugs.

The Bug Blitz is conducted each year in both autumn and spring at over 90 sites, explained Woo O’Reilly, facilitator of the local community Waterwatch program.

“Bugs are one of the best indicators of water health. Aquatic macro-invertebrates – like dragonflies, mayflies, true bugs, water beetles, freshwater snails, back swimmers, leeches and midges – have differing levels of sensitivity to disturbance and pollution. Sampling the water and working out which bugs are thriving and which ones are missing tells us how healthy a particular waterway is,” said O’Reilly.

The results of the Bug Blitz –– in combination with regular year-round monitoring of water quality - provide a benchmark against which the ACT Government can measure the success of education and infrastructure projects.

Visit the ACT Waterwatch website to find out more about Bug Blitz and other Waterwatch programs.


World Water Day: We can all protect our waterways

To celebrate World Water Day on Wednesday 22 March 2017, locals were encouraged to do at least one thing to help make a difference to the health of our waterways.

World Water Day is a United Nations initiative to tackle water issues around the globe and  a number of projects in the ACT  are helping to protect our water sources.
ACT Healthy Waterways is a joint initiative of the Australian and ACT governments to build water quality infrastructure on up to 25 sites around the ACT. The first of these projects is scheduled to commence soon. In addition, a new stormwater education program called H2OK: Keeping our waterways healthy, launched last month, encourages everyone in the ACT and region to make sure only rain goes down the stormwater drain.

The theme of this year’s World Water Day – ‘wastewater’ or ‘why waste water?’ – provided an opportunity for everyone to think about ways to make a difference.

Everything that goes down the stormwater drain ends up in our waterways so it is important we pick up rubbish, sweep driveways, pick up pet droppings and put cigarette butts in the bin instead of leaving them in the street.

Autumn has arrived and fallen leaves are a big problem when it comes to stormwater. They get washed down the drain and into the stormwater system where they break down and create high nutrient loads. This can cause all sorts of problems in our lakes including blue-green algae. Raking up leaves is one of the best ways to improve water quality.

What will you do to improve water quality? Visit our top ten tips page for ideas on how you can prevent contaminated water flowing into our lakes and waterways as well as information on the ACT Healthy Waterways Project.

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