Working with the community
The Waterwatch Program grew considerably during the year to cover the entire Port Phillip and Westernport region. In 2006/07, more than 40,000 people participated in 1000 Waterwatch activities, and water quality monitoring was conducted at more than 300 sites. Over 8000 more people participated this year compared to 2005/06.
The popular Melbourne Water Frog Census community education program was conducted again in spring 2006 and autumn 2007, with volunteers monitoring frog populations in the Port Phillip and Westernport region. This year, there were 60 new participants in the spring and autumn Frog Census, with 330 volunteers registering their interest in the program. Analysis of the previous year’s census showed 11 species of frogs were found across the region, including populations of the endangered growling grass frog and the threatened southern toadlet.
Our work to monitor and protect platypus continued as part of our survey partnership with the Australian Platypus Conservancy. Surveys provided good results at many rivers and creeks, including Monbulk Creek, Olinda Creek and Mullum Mullum Creek. Seven platypus, including four juvenile and one previously successfully transferred from the Tarago River, were also found at Cardinia Creek.
We held community caretaker events this year to recognise the role and value of community groups and volunteers in protecting our waterways. These events marked the 10-year anniversary of the Stream Frontage Management, Community Grants and Corridors of Green programs. About 34,000 volunteers are involved in improving rivers and creeks through these and other community grants programs and in community and environment groups.
Cleaning up with raingardens
While rain doesn’t grow on trees, raingardens are a new way to improve the stormwater that eventually runs into our waterways and bays. Melbourne Water is working with councils, schools and residents on a new way to improve streetscapes, save trees and water, reduce pollution and improve drainage.
Stormwater run-off from driveways, pavements and road surfaces is being directed into raingardens built around the base of nearby trees. Soil and plant roots in the raingardens help to filter pollutants such as sediments, nutrients, oils, metals and litter before the stormwater is drained away. A sustainable watering and feeding system is also created for the trees. Several councils, such as the cities of Melbourne, Kingston, Stonnington, Boroondara and Yarra, have developed projects and stormwater is being fed around the base of trees planted in Little Bourke and Little Collins streets in the city.
By 2013, Melbourne Water aims to build community and council capacity by providing support for the construction of 10,000 raingardens across Melbourne.
To raise further awareness about the links between river health, urban design and stormwater management, Melbourne Water has constructed raingardens at the Victorian College of Arts, Royal Botanical Gardens and in the car park at Federation Square.
Melbourne Water has also introduced a Raingardens in Schools scheme. Students participate in learning activities that culminate in building their own raingarden at school. We have funded 20 schools in the lower Yarra catchment to design and build raingardens.