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Waterway Health Reports

STATE OF OUR WATERWAYS

Blacktown City is growing rapidly and by 2036 it will be home to more than 500,000 residents. Much of the growth in population will be due to the transformation of 7,500ha of rural land into urban development in the northern half of the Blacktown Local Government Area as part of the North West Growth Centre. This urbanisation will accommodate 70,000 new homes and around 200,0001 people.

The expansion of the City will increase the amount of hard surfaces such as roofs, paths, driveways, roads and car parks. These hard surfaces are mostly impervious which prevent rainwater from absorbing into the ground. These hard surfaces direct large volumes of fast moving “stormwater” into our waterways through the gutters and drainage pipes. This stormwater carries with it pollutants from urban areas which flow into our creeks, rivers and wetlands, degrading the health of our waterways.

To combat this issue, Blacktown’s Community Vision 2030 states Council’s intent to “pursue best practice sustainable water management to protect and improve the water quality of the local environment”. We are actively undertaking various projects to protect and enhance our waterways in the face of continued urban development.

We periodically monitor the quality of our waterways and the results for the 2014/15 financial year are included in this report card. Overall, most urban waterways within Blacktown City are in good condition, with several creeks in less developed areas of the city in good condition.

In the west of the City lies a small tributary of Little Creek. This creek is in excellent condition and is surrounded by undisturbed bushland which is home to over 300 species of native wildlife and endangered plants.

1 NSW Department of Planning and Environment n.d, North West Priority Growth Area, accessed 26 August 2015, http://growthcentres.planning.nsw.gov.au/PriorityGrowthAreas/NorthWestPriorityGrowthArea.aspx

 

Waterway health

What do we monitor and why?

 

The health of a waterway is measured using a variety of methods. The report card scores rely on three key indicators to assess the condition of Blacktown City’s creeks which include:

• Water quality (physical and chemical factors)

• Waterbugs (macroinvertebrates)

• Creek bank (riparian) vegetation

Water quality

 

Water quality is an important factor associated with aquatic ecosystem health. We regularly monitor water quality in many waterways throughout our local area. We measure pH, salinity, nutrients and turbidity.

Waterbugs

 

Waterbugs, or aquatic macroinvertebrates, form an important part of the aquatic ecosystem and are widely used as indicators of waterway health. Certain waterbugs are more tolerant to water pollution and environmental change than others, so by monitoring the waterbug communities we gain more of a snapshot of current waterway health.

Riparian vegetation

 

Native riparian vegetation along creek banks is beneficial to maintaining water quality, bank stability and regulating water temperature. It also provides important habitat and a major role in the food chain of creek ecosystems.

Grading System

 

A         Excellent: Water quality indicators are within guideline limits more than 90% of the time. Diverse waterbug community with species sensitive to pollution present. Good riparian vegetation with native plant diversity and coverage.

B         Good: Water quality indicators are within guideline limits 85% of the time. Moderately diverse waterbug community with some pollution sensitive species not present. Riparian vegetation has moderate native plant diversity and coverage, with some weed infestation.

C         Fair: Water quality indicators are within guideline limits 70% of the time. Waterbug community only contains pollution tolerant species. Riparian vegetation is lacking native diversity and coverage, and weeds are likely to be present and possibly dominating.

D E F  Poor: Water quality indicators are within guideline limits less than 50% of the time. Waterbug community only contains pollution tolerant species. Riparian vegetation is lacking native plant diversity, and weeds are most likely to be dominating.

  

Waterway health card report 2013-2014

Waterway health card report 2014-2015

Waterway health card report 2015-2016

Blacktown Waterways Health Report Card 2013-2014

Blacktown Waterways Health Report Card 2014-2015

Blacktown Waterways Health Report Card 2015-2016

Little Creek Tributary

  • 2013/14: A
  • 2014/15: A
  • 2015/16: A

An excellent example of a minimally disturbed Western Sydney creek that has healthy riparian vegetation with a good diversity of native species. Good water quality has enabled a good a diverse and abundant waterbug community that includes species which aren’t present in other creeks in Blacktown City due to pollution and poor water quality.

Ropes Creek – North

  • 2013/14: C
  • 2014/15: B
  • 2015/16: D

In the past year we have seen a decline in water quality and waterbug diversity. This indicates that this creek has been affected by water pollution and resulted in a reduced waterways health grade this year. Weeds continue to dominate the riparian vegetation.

South Creek

  • 2013/14: B
  • 2014/15: B
  • 2015/16: B

The riparian vegetation at this site is dominated by native species and the abundance and diversity of waterbugs has improved. However periods of poor water quality leave this site with the same waterway health as last year.

Little Creek

  • 2013/14: D
  • 2014/15: D
  • 2015/16: E

Poor water quality results are frequently observed for this creek and the waterbugs present are species that are more tolerant to pollution. Riparian vegetation is weed dominated and provides little in-stream habitat. Although the grade for Little Creek has declined, the result should not be considered significant.

Bells Creek

  • 2013/14: C
  • 2014/15: B
  • 2015/16: C

There was no change in water quality results this year, however, a significant decline in waterbug richness was recorded, resulting in a reduced waterways health grade. The riparian vegetation at the site is dominated by weeds.

Ropes Creek – South

  • 2013/14: B
  • 2014/15: B
  • 2015/16: B

The diversity and abundance of waterbugs and water quality are consistent with last year. The riparian vegetation is in good condition.

Eastern Creek – North

  • 2013/14: B
  • 2014/15: B
  • 2015/16: B

The diversity and abundance of waterbugs and water quality are consistent with last year. The riparian vegetation includes some native species, with the presence of some invasive weeds.

Breakfast Creek

  • 2013/14: C
  • 2014/15: C
  • 2015/16: C

The waterbugs present in this creek are more tolerant to pollution. A narrow riparian buffer with remnant native vegetation helps to enhance the overall health of the creek. Variable water quality with high nutrient levels leave this site with the same waterway health as last year.

Angus Creek

  • 2013/14: C
  • 2014/15: B
  • 2015/16: C

A lower waterways health grade this year was driven by a decline in macroinvertebrate richness. The waterbug community found at Angus Creek lacks species that are sensitive to pollution, while the riparian vegetation is dominated by weeds which continue to impact on the health of the creek. Historical grades show the condition of this creek fluctuate over time.

Quakers Hill Creek

  • 2013/14: C
  • 2014/15: C
  • 2015/16: C

The riparian vegetation has patches of native vegetation. However, at present the waterbug community is dominated by species that are tolerant to pollution, which is reflective of fair water quality.

Blacktown Creek

  • 2013/14: C
  • 2014/15: C
  • 2015/16: B

An improved waterways health grade this year may be influenced by the Mitchell Reserve Wetland which is now well established and is functioning effectively. There has been a significant improvement in the water quality and a richer waterbug community. The presence of a narrow strip of riparian vegetation that contains remnant native vegetation also enhances the overall health of the creek.

Eastern Creek - South

  • 2013/14: B
  • 2014/15: C
  • 2015/16: B

Remnant patches of native vegetation and a significant improvement in the richness of the waterbug community have enhanced the overall condition of the creek.

Lalor Creek

  • 2013/14: D
  • 2014/15: D
  • 2015/16: C

Over the past two years Council has undertaken work to rehabilitate Lalor Creek with native vegetation. This work is likely to have influenced and contributed to an improvement in a waterways health grade this year.

Toongabbie Creek

  • 2013/14: C
  • 2014/15: C
  • 2015/16: C

Variable water quality and high nutrient levels in this creek are reflected in the waterbug community, which does not contain any species that are sensitive to pollution. The riparian vegetation community, however, retains some native species, though weeds are prolific.

Bungarribee Creek

  • 2013/14: B
  • 2014/15: B
  • 2015/16: C

A decline in the waterways health grade is a result of a decline in water quality, which is reflected by the absence of pollution sensitive waterbug species. However, the riparian vegetation community retains a good coverage of native species which helps to enhance the health of the creek.

Greystanes Creek

  • 2013/14: C
  • 2014/15: C
  • 2015/16: D

There is a decline in water quality and a reduction in the richness of the waterbug community. The absence of native riparian vegetation contributes and reflects a poor waterways health grade this year.

Blacktown City: Creating a water sensitive city

Stormwater harvesting

Stormwater harvesting aims to reduce demand for drinking water supply from Sydney’s Warragamba Dam and reduce the peak volume and frequency of stormwater runoff in local catchments to help protect our creeks. Council is successfully harvesting stormwater at Blacktown Showground and will soon commence harvesting at Blacktown International Sportspark. A number of new stormwater harvesting systems are also proposed for Blacktown City in the future. Stormwater is normally harvested from drainage pipes or from peak flows in creeks. The harvested stormwater is commonly stored in tanks or ponds, treated to ensure it is safe and then used to irrigate sports fields and many other uses, enabling safer playing surfaces and better amenity. Stormwater harvesting helps restore the natural water balance by using the increased runoff from hard surfaces in our developed areas and preventing it from entering our creeks.

Stormwater education program

 

Council is working with schools, community groups and residents across our city to increase understanding of water quality, stormwater and catchment management, and promote behaviour change to help improve the health of our local waterways. We have delivered fun and engaging activities and learning resources including bus trips, guided walks and school excursions. We’ve formed partnerships and developed place-based projects to help our community better understand and educate others about stormwater pollution. These activities include advice and examples of what you can do to help keep our water quality and local environments clean and healthy.

Water sensitive urban design

 

Council adopts a water sensitive approach to urban design in an effort to help improve the long term health of our local waterways. We require new and infill development to incorporate water sensitive urban design principles. We are also integrating water sensitive urban design into our own projects such as car park upgrades, streetscape parking and park improvements. This move towards becoming a water sensitive city is supported in house by an education and awareness program to ensure our staff improves the management of our local waterways.

Keeping litter away from our creeks

 

We strategically install and maintain pollution control devices in drainage pipes across the City. These devices capture large amounts of sediment and litter that washes into our drains on rainy days. There are currently over 300 pollution control devices of various types capture approximately 800 tonnes of rubbish entering local creeks each year.

Auditing of privately owned stormwater assets

 

We proactively audit and educate property owners that have a stormwater quality improvement device or on-site stormwater detention system to help ensure these privately owned devices and systems are maintained in good working order. This will help protect the health of our local waterways.

Creek flow monitoring program

We have installed a network of 5 flow monitoring stations on Blacktown, Second Ponds, Bells, Marsden Creeks and on a tributary of Little Creek. Flow data can be used for several purposes, including measuring the impact of urbanisation on stormwater runoff and assessing flooding levels.

Creek assessment

 

Blacktown has 22 major creeks and various unnamed tributaries that provide natural drainage and habitat across the city. Recognising the important role creeks play, we are assessing the condition of over 250 kilometres of local waterways that is in the Blacktown Local Government Area. This includes creeks in natural settings and developed and newly developing areas. Creek conditions range from excellent to severely degraded. The results will supplement information presented in the waterway health report card and provide a baseline for better planning and restoration projects in the future.

Creek restoration

 

Increased stormwater flows and damage to native vegetation from careless or ill-planned development leads to erosion of creek lines and proliferation of weeds. The result is unsightly creeks with reduced habitat for local wildlife. Stabilising the creek bed and banks and protecting creeks from further erosion includes restoring native plant diversity and structure. We are working to restore many of our creeks to a more natural and stable state. Creek restoration creates better quality habitat for local wildlife, reduces flooding impacts and provides beautiful natural places for local residents to enjoy.

What can I do to preserve our waterways?

You can reduce stormwater pollution by stopping it entering the drain in the first place. Here’s how:

Home

 

• Carry shopping in reusable bags. Plastic bags are a common pollutant, they can take a long time to break down and animals can be smothered, tangled or choked in them.

• Put rubbish in the bin. Rubbish takes a long time to break down.

• Use phosphorous-free detergents by looking out for the NP (no phosphorous) sign on packaging.

• Keep paint, turps and solvents clear of gutters and drains, re-use turps once the paint has settled, and allow unused paint to dry out and then put it in the bin or take it to your yearly local chemical cleanout. See Council’s website for details.

• Pick up your dog’s droppings with a plastic bag and put it in the bin.

• Did you know residents are eligible for 12 free household waste pickups each year? To book a pickup call 9839 6000.

• If you have chemicals you need to dispose of, please contact info@environment.nsw.gov.au or phone the Environment Line 131 555.

Car

 

• Use a car wash that recycles water or wash your car on the grass and use as little detergent as you can.

• When cleaning under the car, check for any fluid leaks and get them repaired.

Garden

 

• Sweep gutters and driveways rather than hose them down.

• Put leaves in the compost or on the garden as mulch.

• Rake up grass clippings then mulch or compost. Composting helps prevent the drains from becoming blocked and causing local flooding.

• Cover piles of soil, sand or mulch to stop them washing away on rainy days.

• Use natural fertiliser only when necessary. Excess nutrients in the water encourage waterweed and algae growth.

Street / Park

 

• Put your cigarette butts and other rubbish in the bin, and pitch in and help clean up littered areas.

• If there is no bin handy, hold onto your rubbish until you find one, and carry a container for your cigarette butts.

• Pick up your dog droppings when you’re out and about.

• Report illegal dumping and builders that are not controlling sediments on their building sites by calling Council on 9839 6000.

 

For more information contact: Blacktown City Council Asset Design

Phone: 9839 6000

Email: council@blacktown.nsw.gov.au www.blacktown.nsw.gov.au/Environment/Water_Catchments

Twitter: @blacktowncc

Facebook: I Love Blacktown City Council

Acknowledgments: BCC Waterway Health Report Card was developed by T. Ahmed, C. Tippler and P. Birtles and is modelled on the following existing programs: EHMP (2008) Ecosystem Health Monitoring Program 2006-07 Annual Technical Report. South East Queensland Healthy Waterways Partnership, Brisbane. Centre for Environmental Management, Central Queensland University. ©2014-2015 BCC Waterway Health Report Card. Printed on paper manufactured from sustainable resources. Cover photo: Tributary of Little Creek.

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