Category Archives: Stormwater management

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

The 10 year anniversary of Blue Mountains City Council’s Swampcare and Save our Swamps Program was celebrated at a Swamp Symposium recently that highlighted the significant and award-winning achievements of swamp restoration in the Blue Mountains.
The one-day conference, which attracted 65 attendees, highlighted dedicated Swampcare volunteers who have contributed over 10,000 hours towards protecting Blue Mountains swamps.
Mayor, Cr Mark Greenhill, said the award-winning approach to swamp restoration is part of Council’s whole of catchment approach to environmental management.

“Swampcare is a vital part of Council’s highly effective volunteer program aimed at biodiversity conservation,” Cr Greenhill said. “We’re able to better protect and restore swamps across the city thanks to 75 dedicated Swampcare volunteers.

Blue Mountains Swamps are a biologically diverse plant community that occurs nowhere else in the world. The vegetation in these swamps range from low button grass clumps to large shrubs such as the Hakea and Grevillea species. The swamps provide essential habitat to several Threatened Species such as the Blue Mountains Water Skink (Eulamprus leuraensis) and the Giant Dragonfly (Petalura gigantea).

Council’s Upland Swamp Rehabilitation Program started in 2006 after Blue Mountains swamps were listed as part of the Temperate Highland Peat Swamps on Sandstone endangered ecological community.

In 2008 Blue Mountains and Lithgow City Councils formed a partnership to deliver the ‘Save our Swamps’ (S.O.S) project to restore the endangered ecological community across both local government areas. The project was supported by grant funding of $250,000 over 3 years from the Urban Sustainability program of the NSW Environmental Trust.

In 2009 the S.O.S. project received a $400,000 Federal Government ‘Caring for Country’ grant to expand the program to incorporate Wingecarribee Shire Council and Gosford City Council. The partnership resulted in the swamp remediation model being rolled out to over 95% of the endangered ecological community in the four local government areas.

The innovative integrated approach led to the project receiving four awards, including a special commendation in the United Nations World Environment Day Award for Excellence in Overall Environmental Management in 2011.

Speakers at the conference included Palaeoecologist, Dr Lennard Martin, who spoke on the ancient origins of swamps and Principal Scientist at the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, Martin Krogh, who discussed the health of Newnes and Woronora Plateau Swamps.

Eric Mahony and Amy St Lawrence from Council’s Environment and Culture Branch also gave presentations. The day finished up with a field trip to the new soft engineering stormwater structures installed at the Leura catchment.

 

The Swamp Symposium was made possible by funding from the Office of Environment and Heritage ‘Save Our Species’ program, the new NSW Environmental Trust funded ‘Swamped by Threats’ project and Council.

 

Interested in Swampcare? Get involved by emailing schew@bmcc.nsw.gov.au or call the Bushcare office on 4780 5623.

Leura Falls Creek Catchment 2017 weed blitz morning

Scouts help out at Leura Falls Creek photo by Jenny Hill

The 27th May 2017 provided us with perfect weather for our annual get-together in the Leura Falls Creek Catchment. This year it was at Vale St and we were joined by students from Katoomba Primary School SQID Squad and children from the 1st Blackheath Scouts and Cubs. The children planted 434 plants along the creek line and Vale St. They were helped by Ed and Adrian from the Bush Doctors, Eric Mahony, scout leaders, Katoomba Primary teacher Sally Dare and parents. All up we had 42 volunteers come to the morning. Work also included removal of woody weeds , follow-up weeding and mulching.

The morning was organised by Council’s bushcare. Big thanks go to Karen Hising, Tracy Abbas and Eric Mahony and of course to everyone who came. At morning tea we had a presentation by the SQID Squad, and updates from the Leura Falls Creek Catchment Working Group and National Parks and Wildlife Service. We also had a small presentation to Frances Dutton who started the Vale St bushcare group and Lynne Carson who has worked with the Vale St and Cumberland Walkway groups for more than 10 years. Frances and Lynne are leaving the mountains and we wish them all the best.

The morning was highly enjoyable and productive. We can’t wait for next year’s get-together.

Little end note: If you didn’t know … SQID stands for Stormwater Quality Improvement Device and the Katoomba PS SQID Squad are an environmental group who are involved in a number of projects as part of their stewardship of the catchment.