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
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.
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.
Pherosphaera fitzgeraldii Katoomba Falls photo courtesy Ian Brown
Protecting the Wentworth Falls population of the endangered Pherosphaera fitzgeraldii from the very invasive Montbretia was the name of the game for our Jamison Creek Catchment Care Day this year. It was well received by some keen Bushcare volunteers, BMCC Bushland Operations Team (Bushcare Officers and Bush Regeneration Officers) and the NPWS Ranger for the Jamison Valley.
Having 2 extra Bush Regeneration team members involved for the first time meant we could divide into smaller groups and cover more of the creekline as well as share information about the management of the whole area while we worked.
One group met at Wentworth Falls Car Park, walked to the top of Wentworth Falls and then worked upstream (wading where necessary) to follow up woody weeds in the area worked last year.
The other groups met at the corner of Jamison and Fletcher streets, kitted up and after a short walk down to the creek, with some walking further down the Charles Darwin Track, started target ting Montbretia around the pools and cascades and all woody weeds and the along the track and creek banks. All three groups re-united for lunch and informative talks on the creek bank.
Montbretia is slow going so although the distance covered wasn’t huge, we removed lots of corms and enjoyed the beautiful weather and surroundings while we worked. There was lots of opportunity to discuss the creek condition, learn about the endangered Dwarf Mountain Pine (Pherosphaera fistzgeraldii).
Montbretia (Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora) corms
Montbretia (Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora) flowers
Another target weed in this catchment is Erica lusitanica (Spanish or Portugese heath, often referred to simply as “Erica”, a woody shrub which has a similar appearance to native tea trees so is often mistaken for a native. Both Montbretia and Erica have the potential to establish in the rocky crevices on the cliffline adjacent to the waterfalls – taking up the space where Dwarf Mountain Pine grows. Annual Catchment Care Days are a valuable contribution to the ongoing work of Council’s Bushland Operations Team, contractors and the volunteer Bushcare Groups. Charles Darwin, Jamieson St Landcare, Wentworth Falls Lake, Water Nymphs Dell and Valley of the Waters groups were all represented this year and together we not only dealt with Montbretia and Erica but as Tutsan, Japanese honeysuckle and Small-leaf Privet as well.
Jenny Hill from Council’s Healthy Waterways Team delivered a very informative talk about the issues affecting the water quality of the catchment and the work underway to improve stormwater management.
Good food, good company and good work resulted in a very enjoyable and productive morning – made possible through funding from the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage “Saving Our Species” program. A huge thank you to SoS and the dedicated volunteers of Wentworth Falls!
Tributary of Leura Falls Creek photo by Karen Hising
Join all the Groups in the Leura Falls Creek Catchment for a morning at the Vale Street Bushcare site in the upper part of the catchment, a critical place in the stormwater management system. There will be a range of options – weeding (both challenging and easy work along the creek) planting, mulching. An opportunity to inspect and support the recent contract work in that area. There will also be updates about our work in the Catchment. Includes morning tea.
Meet in the foyer at 2.50 pm. Our newest Catchment Group meets to explore the environmental issues impacting on the Jamison Creek ecosystems and to implement strategies to improve the overall catchment health. For more information please get in touch with Lachlan Garland 0415 317 078 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
UNSW Chinese Students Association helping out with planting at Katoomba Falls
Our fabulous Blue Mountains put on a text-book Winter’s day for a small group of students from the University of New South Wales on July 14 – bright sunshine and crisp (cold) air – perfect for planting ferns along the newly refurbished walking track at Katoomba Falls.
The group may have been small but the amount they got done was not! Working with contractors engaged by Blue Mountains City Council (BMCC) who prepared the holes ready for planting, 120 Blechnum nudum, Gahnia sieberiana and Lomandra longifolia were very quickly in the ground, watered and protected from frost and wind with tree fern fronds.
The students were so enthusiastic and energetic that once the plants were in, we had plenty of time to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate and some delicious, locally produced biscuits before walking to the lookout, guided by Monica from the Bushcare Team.
Hopefully this was just the first of many more days such as this one, which not only showcased one of our local icons but also the wonderful work that BMCC is doing to protect the World Heritage on our doorstep
Vincent shows us how its done
Edol, Mindy, and Vincent wasted no time getting in amongst it