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Wendy Rainbird, and Anne I'Ons: Murrumbidgee River

Wendy Rainbird, and Anne I'Ons: Murrumbidgee River

Bottle number: 27

About the water

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Collected at: Murrumbidgee River, Casuarina Sands, ACT.

Casuarina Sands is near the Cotter Dam Pumping Station.

Latitude 350° 20', 148° 55'.

View location on Google map

Collected by: Wendy Rainbird, and Anne I'Ons, the Sands group of Waterwatch ACT, on Murrumbidgee River, ACT.

Anne and Wendy joined many volunteers to be trained as Waterwatchers in the Community Assessment Monitoring Program for Fire Impacted River Ecology (CAMPFIRE), following the devastation of the 2003 bushfires.

The program covered the catchments of the Murrumbidgee, Cotter, Paddy's and Gudgenby Rivers. This is special because few water monitoring programs cover such a range of the sections of catchments.

Since 2003, Anne and Wendy have been doing monthly monitoring of that site. So there is long term, as well as seasonal data.

Water quality:

Turbidity: 50NTU
pH: 7.3 PH units
Nitrates: NA
Salinity: 84.1µS/cm
Phosphates: 0.03ppm
Dissolved oxygen: 8ppm, 95% dissolved.

A turbidity spike had been reported along the Murrumbidgee River near Numeralla, in early November, 2009. The water authority took aerial photos of the creek which is severely eroded, and a nearby storm caused excessive, turbid run-off. Waterwatchers are recording and monitoring the event. It was the Waterwatchers who alerted authorities about an earlier turbidity event, that lasted about 4 weeks from 28 December 2008, following a local storm over degraded land, near Numeralla. Meetings of the Upper Murrumbidgee Catchment with other groups are involved in discussions to prevent further incidents.

ACT Waterwatch says:

As Wendy and Anne pointed out, turbidity is well above where it should be, as are the phosphates. We believe the increased turbidity is comming from nearly 100km upstream and are now working on improving pasture management in the area to improve the readings.

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About the site

Casuarina Sands on the Murrumbidgee River has been a popular picnic place for people of Canberra, for many years. Since the 2003 bushfires burnt the area, and with the long drought since about 2001, to the present, the river levels have been low.

At one stage there was a low level weir, which created a deeper pool for swimming, but after a drowning in about 1970s, it was removed.

What's going on:

The picnic area of Casuarina Sands is being (2009) upgraded to a natural picnic area. The riparian zone has struggled since the 2003 bushfires combined with the drought, as many old Casuarina trees died. Acacias coppiced, and weeds have sprung up. Wombats live in the area, and bird-life is plentiful.

Waterwatch monitoring involves chemical readings, eg for turbidity, salinity, acidity, temperature, phosphates, and dissolved oxygen. We note the water level, the river flow, the 24 hour weather conditions, the amount of algal cover of submerged rocks and logs, any beetle activity, birds, and other animals, like the wombat. Riparian condition.