Category Archives: Stormwater management

Grant News

5 years funding for weed control Article by Linda Thomas

Bushcare volunteers, form an important component of Council’s overall weed management strategy. However, there are many other interesting conservation projects that you may hear about or encounter in your local area.

Two new grants

Council has received new grants from Greater Sydney Local Land Services and the NSW Environmental Trust which will help expand our capacity to deliver target weed control, bush regeneration and stormwater control outcomes over the next five years.

Each year Council’s Environment team applies for grants where grant program targets align with Council’s core program outcomes. In this way Council is able to extend its delivery of environmental programs within the Blue Mountains and increase the value of return for a rate collected dollar. As these funding sources are dependent on broader political climates, they cannot be relied upon to deliver core Council functions, but are an effective means of building capacity when an opportunity presents itself.

Most grants have a 12-18 month time frame, so these five year grants allow for the consolidation and extension of a range of programs to help target cross tenure issues across public reserves and private lands.

Himalayan Honeysuckle and Holly in Moist Basalt Cap Forest Mt Wilson Photo credit: Linda Thomas

Council will use these grants to:

  • Target Cats Claw Creeper in Springwood, Blaxland and Lapstone. This is a new priority weed which has limited distribution in the lower mountains. The aim over five years is to substantially control and eradicate all known populations of Cats Claw Creeper in our Local Government Area.
  • Extend ongoing programs to control Pussy Willow, Boneseed and African Olive in the mid to lower mountains.
  • Target bird spread weeds such as Himalayan Honeysuckle and English Holly on private properties in Mt Wilson, to protect Moist Basalt Cap Forest.
  • Extend bush regeneration programs in Blue Mountains Shale Cap Forest and Sun Valley Cabbage Gum Forest across Council reserves and adjoining private lands.
  • Monitor and trial controls for Bell Miner populations, which are linked to tree dieback in several lower mountains reserves.
  • Install stormwater control structures and extend weed control programs in several swamp systems in the upper mountains.
  • Support the Katoomba / Govetts Creek, Gordon Creek / Leura Falls Creek, and Jamison Creek catchment groups by undertaking extended weed control and rehabilitation projects on sites these groups have nominated as outstanding problems in their catchments.


New Bushcare Group – Valley View Swamp, Blackheath

GORILLAS IN THE SWAMP (G.I.T.S.) are a dedicated group of Swamp-carers whom have been heroically spending their own time to fight back the weeds and take care of the invaluable and endangered ecological area that is Valley View Swamp in Blackheath.

There have been numerous Swampcare events at Valley View Swamp in the past which have made marked improvements in the health and condition of the site. Even with these accomplishments, we have recognised that the challenges facing us require a bolstered approach and a monthly meet-up in order to revamp the regeneration of the natural environment here.

WHY ARE SWAMPS SO IMPORTANT? – Blue Mountains Swamps are biologically diverse plant communities that occur nowhere else in the world. The swamps provide crucial habitat to a number of Threatened Species including the Blue Mountains Water Skink (Eulamprus leuraensis) and the Giant Dragonfly (Petalura gigantea). These swamps also play a vital role in maintaining the water flows in the area’s creeks, waterfalls and ground-water by capturing and storing rainwater and then slowly releasing it over time. Swamps act as filters, purifying water prior to its release into the natural environment downstream. Blue Mountains Swamps are coming under ever increasing pressure and are very susceptible due to the edge effects of urbanization and urban runoff.

PLANNED NEW MANAGEMENT STRATEGY – Big plans are in store for Valley View Swamp with a new management strategy nearing completion. The stormwater issues will be addressed with the construction of sandstone water-retention basins, sediment settling ponds, bio-filtration systems and rock lined channel. As well as being aesthetically pleasing, these storm-water control structures provide the benefits of improving water quality, reducing sedimentation in the swamp, rehydrating ground water and creating habitat. We are looking forward to observe and document the progress throughout the works of this project. Of course, we will continue to remove and control the invasive species on the site and encourage native revegetation too.

  • GORILLA IN THE SWAMPS (G.I.T.S.) – Valley View Swamp, Blackheath
  • When: 2nd Thursday of the month 9:30am -12:30pm
  • Where: Meeting on the corner of Valley View Rd and Hargraves St, Blackheath
  • What to bring: Please wear weather appropriate clothing which you don’t mind getting dirty, sturdy footwear and gumboots if it’s wet. A hat, sunscreen, plenty of water and something for morning tea. Tools and gloves are provided.
  • For more information contact the Swampcare Bushcare Officer – Ed Bayliss Hack on 4780 5623 or by ebaylisshack@bmcc.nsw.gov.au

Swampcare is a hands-on way our community can come together to protect our unique Blue Mountains Swamps.

Its time to remove the heads from your Agapanthus

Well its that time of year when the seed heads of Agapanthus are forming. The plants by themselves are not too bad as they hold the soil together so in some instances where the soil is unstable they are best left and deheaded.

On the other hand the seed can travel down creeks into the areas of bushland and take root on creekbanks and unusual places like gutters. The root fragments can be spread in the movement of soil and dumped plants can survive for years and take root where they are left.

Agapanthus growing in the gutters of a house

Agapanthus growing in the gutters of a house Photo courtesy of Lachlan Garland

 

Agapanthus are tough plants so they have been used extensively on edges and next to drains. All of these drains and run off lead into the bushland. So if we remove the seeds the plants can not move into the surrounding bushland.

Agapanthus planted next to a roadedge

Agapanthus planted next to a road edge photo courtesy of Lachlan Garland

Farewell to Bushcare Champion

Eric Mahony Bushland Operations Coordinator, long time supporter and previous Bushcare Team Leader will be resigning from Blue Mountains City Council to take up work with Central Tablelands Local Land Services (LLS) in Lithgow, working on biodiversity conservation projects.

Eric Mahony in the field discussing plans with volunteers

Eric worked for the BMCC in the 1990’s with community volunteers undertaking  Bushcare and Landcare programs in conserving and restoring our Blue Mountains bushland, which has been a point of great pride and satisfaction for him. Since then the program has shown what can happen when the community and Council work together, and the significant and lasting environmental outcomes, that are able to be achieved.

Eric said he will miss the support he has received from many of you both on a personal level, as well as at a program level and wishes everyone well. Hoping that Bushcare continues to have the same level of success into the future in protecting and restoring our precious Blue Mountains bushland as it has done for many years.

“For myself, looking forward, the opportunity to work with LLS staff in what has become my home landscape, Lithgow, having lived there for the last 18 years will present a new and exciting challenge. I will be working on various conservation projects with woodland birds, swamps, Copperwing Butterfly and others in the river systems surrounding Lithgow.

The position will provide an opportunity to reconnect with some of these projects and local community members from when I last worked in Lithgow.

For me, there remains significant  environmental challenges found west of the Blue Mountains in my home landscape of  Lithgow and look forward to the opportunity to be involved in projects with the central west communities to address these” he said.

Bushcare staff and volunteers are sad to see Eric leave as he is a well known figure in the environmental field across the Blue Mountains. Eric will be dearly missed, not just for his environmental knowledge and abilities, but also for his friendship, generosity with his time and commitment to public service.

All the best Eric!

Waterbug Identification Training

EOI – Thurs 11 Oct

Blue Mountains City Council have been fortunate to have secured John Gooderham, author of The Waterbug Book (CSIRO Publishing), to deliver waterbug identification training workshops on the 29th and 30th October 2018 (probably at Old Ford Reserve, Megalong). These workshops are for Council staff, Bushcare/Landcare/Swampcare/Streamwatch volunteers, teachers and other community members.

If you would like to participate in the training, please contact Amy St Lawrence by Thursday 11 October to express your interest.  Places are limited but we’ll do our best to accommodate everyone. You can complete either the Monday or the Tuesday workshop, or if super keen (and places are available), both!

Council’s Healthy Waterways team can then assist workshop participants to complete their own waterbug surveys with their Bushcare/Landcare/Swampcare/Streamwatch groups or schools, with data collected to be entered into the National Waterbug Blitz – https://www.waterbugblitz.org.au/

Amy St Lawrence – astlawrence@bmcc.nsw.gov.au

Water Sensitive Cities Workshops

Help shape a sustainable water future for the Blue Mountains

Do you want our waterways to be healthy in the long term? To live in a place that is more resilient to heatwaves, drought, flooding and bushfire?

Our city faces significant challenges (such as climate change and urban development) that will have a big impact on our waterways and the way we use water. To secure a sustainable future, we need to rethink how we use and value water now. As a member of our local community, your knowledge and ideas are vital to this discussion.

Have your say

Council, together with Water NSW and the Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities, is running community workshops to help guide us towards a more sustainable, livable, ‘water sensitive’ future. This is an exciting opportunity for people from the community, government and business to get together and help shape our future.  The workshops will be dynamic and interactive, exploring:

  • How we might benefit from a ‘water sensitive’ approach to development;
  • successful ‘water sensitive’ case studies from Australia and overseas; and
  • potential local projects to implement as part of Council’s new Water Sensitive City Plan.

You can choose a workshop time and location that suits you:

Date Location Time
Tuesday 30 October Lawson Mechanics Institute Hall Evening: 7-9pm. Dinner provided
Wednesday 31 October Katoomba Cultural Centre Daytime: 9.30am-12.30pm. Lunch provided
Wednesday 31 October Springwood Sports Club Evening: 7-9pm. Dinner provided

To secure your place, go to: www.watersensitivecityworkshops.eventbrite.com.au

Enquiries: ekennedy@bmcc.nsw.gov.au

Phone 4780 5000 (ask for Emma Kennedy or Geoffrey Smith)

Bushcare News: North Katoomba wins Local Government Award for restoring the Minnehaha Falls pool

Minnehaha Falls plunge pool – full of sediment washed into Yosemite Creek from many years of urban development

This year at the annual NSW Local Government Awards, the Blue Mountains City Council  and the local North Katoomba community was recognised for its outstanding work over many years, winning the  Division C and Overall Category Winner of  the Natural Environment Protection and Enhancement: On-Ground Works Award, for the project the Return of the “Bottomless Pool’ in Yosemite Creek, North Katoomba.

The result is the culmination of decades of work addressing urban stormwater runoff and weed invasion, which had previously resulted in sedimentation, erosion and decline of Yosemite Creek’s water quality, as well as loss of habitat and aquatic biodiversity across the Katoomba and Minnehaha Falls Creek.

Local residents lamented the loss of their favourite swimming hole, as the ‘bottomless pool’ at the base of Minnehaha Falls had filled with sediment. A coordinated and collaborative approach with the Blue Mountains City Council, government agencies, businesses and the local community resulted in the successful restoration of Yosemite Creek and the return of the pools including Minnehaha’s ‘bottomless’ plunge pool.

Key to the success of the project has been the long term  involvement of a number of Bushcare and Landcare groups in the broader Katoomba  and Minnehaha Falls Creek both through on ground action and the coordination of annual  sub catchment planning meetings. These groups have, through the leadership of Lyndal Sullivan, provided  a well-coordinated approach to catchment management working closely with Council and NPWS through their yearly planning meetings.

The work of the Minnehaha Falls Bushcare Group needs special mention for its unfailing commitment and the positive results it has been able to achieve in significantly improving the health of the bushland and aquatic habitat of this stream.

The same pool – now clear of sediment and staying that way – thanks to bush regeneration (both paid and unpaid) and improved stormwater management throughout the Yosemite Creek catchment.

Wentworth Falls Waterways Festival – a great success!

Around 400 people enjoyed Wentworth Falls Lake at its best recently at a Waterways Festival held by Blue Mountains City Council, together with Kindle Hill School, Blue Mountains Grammar School, Wentworth Falls Public School and the Jamison Creek Catchment Community Group. Festival goers enjoyed walks, talks, workshops and displays on all things waterways – from crayfish and turtles, to how to have a water-sensitive home.

Locals enjoying healthy waterways craft activities at Wentworth Falls Lake

The festival offered creative and interactive experiences to festival goers, including a water-song painting and a 3-D catchment model. Students and staff from the three schools worked very hard in the lead-up to the event to put together art displays, information on local iconic species, face-painting, performances, treasure hunts and more. Bushcare was well represented, with the Jamison Creek Catchment Care Group stall displaying information on catchment issues, and samples of problem weeds.

Nearly 100 community members contributed their pledge to a ‘pledge waterfall’ promising to take action to protect their local waterways. This included actions such as washing their car on the lawn, controlling invasive weeds, or keeping pollutants out of stormwater drains and gutters.

Cailin Lyddiard (left) Caitlyn Clark (middle) and Mirabai Sigel (right) make friends with a baby turtle.

Council is investing significant resources and working with the community across the catchment to restore Jamison Creek and protect it from urban runoff, including a $700,000 investment in 2017-18, jointly funded by BMCC and Water NSW, and installing new stormwater treatment systems at 15 locations.

(from Left) David Coleby, Rae Druitt, Paul Vale, Lachlan Garland, Clr Romola Hollywood and Mayor Mark Greenhill

Wentworth Falls Lake Stormwater Improvements are in full swing!

Wentworth Falls Lake biofiltration system

Council has partnered with Water NSW and the Environmental NSW Trust “Swamped by Threats” program to fund the installation of bio-filtration systems for storm water entering Wentworth Falls Lake.

These bio-filtration systems are designed to catch nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, significantly improving water quality.  The system includes a treatment train of settling ponds for catching silt, multi layered filtration basin and a sandstone rock armouring, which has been repurposed while excavating the waste cell at the Blaxland Resource Recovery and Waste Management Facility.

Decreasing this nutrient load also helps to reduce the spread of weeds, which can push out local native plants and reduce swamp biodiversity.  The swamp is an Endangered Ecological Community and home to several threatened species including the Giant Dragonfly and Blue Mountains Water Skink. Swamps play a vital part in water management as they store water and release it slowly over time in the creeks and streams.

How healthy are our waterways?

Beautiful creeks and waterways are a wonderful part of our City – but how healthy are they?

Since 1998, Council has regularly tested waterway health at up to 50 waterways across the City. As a result, we now have one of the richest water quality data sets in Australia, and Council uses this data to inform its catchment improvement programs.

Council has published detailed water quality reports on its website since 2006. From July 2016, Council has also produced a summary ‘snapshot’ report, with the aim of making waterway health information more available to the community. The snapshot reports are mailed to all ratepayers in July.

The full waterway health reports, as well as the summary “snapshot” reports, are also available on Council’s website at www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/waterways.

The ‘snapshot’ report shows each sample waterway in the Blue Mountains, the catchment within which it flows, and its state of ecological health (rated Excellent, Good, Fair or Poor). In the 2017 report, 52% of tested waterways are in good condition or better, while 48% of waterways are in fair to poor condition.

Our city is lucky to have some of Australia’s best waterways, but as these results show, they are also vulnerable to pollution – especially due to stormwater runoff from urban areas.

Urban runoff is consistently identified as the number one environmental threat to our World Heritage listing and presents challenges for local drinking water catchments, Endangered Ecological Communities, threatened species and the City’s tourism reputation.

Everything that goes into our gutters and streets ends up in our creeks.

Try these few simple actions to help protect our waterways from urban runoff:

  • Keep these pollutants out of drains: litter, soil and sand, fertilisers and pesticides, detergents, oil, animal droppings and garden waste.
  • Install a rainwater tank to capture rainwater from your roof and use it regularly.
  • Design your garden to allow stormwater to soak into the ground.
  • Control invasive weeds on your property.
  • Don’t dump fish or plants in waterways.

To find out more about local waterways, visit www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/waterways