Blue Mountains City Council was awarded Overall Winner in the Natural Environment Protection and Enhancement: On-Ground Works category at the Local Government NSW (LGNSW) Excellence in the Environment Awards on Tuesday 3 December.
Photo: Healthy Waterways Program Leader Geoffrey Smith (left) accepts the award on behalf of Blue Mountains City Council.
Council was recognised for the Jamison Catchment Streets to Creeks project. The project worked to protect Wentworth Falls Lake and Jamison Creek from stormwater pollution and other threats posed by urban runoff. It also improved the health of swamps and waterways in Wentworth Falls as well as downstream in the World Heritage Area, and drinking water supplies.
“The vulnerability of Jamison Creek to stormwater impacts was highlighted when a stormwater-borne pesticide killed over a thousand of the creek’s freshwater crayfish, literally overnight,” Mayor Greenhill said.
“In response to this tragedy, several Council departments came together to respond to that situation and then work to ensure it never happened again. It is a testament to their passion, determination and ingenuity, and it makes me very proud to be the Mayor of this Council and its staff.”
“As one of only two cities in the world located within a World Heritage National Park, our environment is unique and its importance can never be understated or taken for granted. This award confirms what I and our community already know, that Blue Mountains City Council is second to none in this arena”.
Council constructed 12 stormwater biofiltration systems throughout the catchment, removing pollutants such as litter, sediment, nutrients and pathogens and increasing groundwater recharge. Biofilters improve water quality by slowing, filtering and infiltrating stormwater through beds of sand and gravel planted with native sedges and shrubs.
The project involved Council’s Natural Area Management, Healthy Waterways and Civil Assets teams and employed a range of local contractors in the construction of stormwater treatment systems and the delivery of community and school events.
Local residents, schools and Bushcare groups also contributed to the project by taking part in Waterways festivals, catchment crawls, planting and weeding days and citizen science events.
Lachlan Garland – coordinator of the Jamison Creek Catchment Community Group stated “The Catchment Group congratulates all those involved in the extensive work that resulted in this award. Such an award highlights the Catchment and what is so special about it. The Catchment Group and associated Bushcare Groups look forward to working to improve the Catchment even further, so it becomes an example of what can be done with hard work and persistence.”
Council’s Natural Area Operations Team also became involved with the bio filter systems post-construction largely following heavy rains when there’s a chance to check the functionality and structural integrity of the system – they could identify any maintenance issue and remove vegetation / debris blocking the water flow through the system as well as monitoring the system for any erosion or integrity failures. In-planting of native vegetation and hand weeding also formed part of their role.
Preliminary monitoring shows the treatment systems are improving the quality of stormwater flowing to the lake and Jamison Creek, and surveys have found healthy, breeding crayfish populations that are recovering well from the 2012 pesticide incident.