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Geoff Hyles: Murrumbidgee River

Geoff Hyles: Murrumbidgee River

Bottle number: 1

About the water

A colour photo of Geoff Hyles holding his water sample at Castle Hill pump station.
Geoff Hyles

Collected at: Murrumbidgee River,
'Castle Hill' pump station, [near Tharwa], ACT

About 3km downstream from the Tharwa Bridge on the Murrumbidgee.

E: 713, N: 874 in MGA94.

View location on Google map

Collected by: Geoff Hyles

Local Waterwatch Coordinator emailed me.

Water quality:

Am a failed waterwatcher so no analysis provided. The river water recently has been putrid. I have pumped water from this site for irrigation and domestic needs for almost 40 years but just in the last 3 months the water has become unusable in the house.

I pump to a 100,000Lt settling tank about a km back from and just over 50m above the river. But the water just won't clear or settle. It was disgusting – filthy colour and very foul smell. So for the first time in 40 years I have just (this week) abandoned the river and connected the (cleaned-out and disinfected) reservoir to two large hay shed roofs. Now I just need some rain.

The river hasn't really ever cleaned up after the big fires in January 2003. Since then we have had only one fresh – in June 2007 – and that was only a brief, very minor flood. The river bottom adjacent to the pump is disgusting – about a foot of sludge. I imagine the overall situation will only become worse if/when ACTEW starts pumping 100Ml per day from the Angle Crossing over to Googong.

We need a commercial sand dredge in to clean up this section of the river, kill off the carp and restore some habitat for the native fish, platypus etc. Part of the proceeds from this sand could be used to fund other local restoration works. An excellent and detailed proposal (ACT-NSW Riverlinks CFOC) was prepared for the Caring For Our Country round of funding earlier this year – but obviously no one in the Federal sphere attaches an real desire to start to heal at least this section of the Murrumbidgee ...

ACT Waterwatch says:

Concerned citizens such as Geoff have prompted an aggressive approach to erosion control higher up in the catchments that feed into the upper Murrumbidgee River. As of this date, $150,000 is being poured into erosion control on identified sites and further monitoring to detect other sites in need of work, with more work planned in the coming years.

Bravo Geoff! People really can make a difference by speaking up for their rivers.

Castle Hill pump station, Murrumbidgee River below Tharwa, ACT.
Castle Hill pump station, Murrumbidgee River below Tharwa, ACT.

About the site

The whole of this section of the river is fenced off from farm's cattle but this just seems to allow the lovegrass and wombats (in plague proportions) to take over.

What's going on:

Nothing much – the lovegrass is growing and the wombats breeding – even if it wasn't fenced off, the cattle wouldn't dare go in there any more because of all the wombat holes.

The only recent work has been to kill most of the non-native trees – primarily willows and poplars, and the woody weeds – briars and blackberries.