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Catchment bus tour boosts community understanding

Over 50 enthusiastic community members saw water quality management in action last week at GeoCatch’s 2019 Revitalising Geographe Waterways Community Bus Tour.

Attendees welcomed the opportunity to speak directly with farmers and waterway managers from DWER GeoCatch, WC and City of Busselton. They viewed five sites: Vasse surge barrier, Lower Vasse River, Vasse Diversion Drain and two local farms.

GeoCatch Chair Felicity Bradshaw said the community was really interested to hear about the challenges and complexity of water quality management in the Geographe Bay Catchment.

“Those who attended were impressed at the amount of work being done in this space, and surprised by how complex water quality management can be,” she said.

“The Vasse surge barrier, in particular, sparked a lot of questions from the community.

“It was wonderful to hear about the history of the barrier, and how managers are trying to balance water quality, fish health, waterbirds and public amenity values,” said Felicity.

Attendees said that the bus trip was an excellent way to learn about water quality challenges.

“Talking to real people is much more enjoyable than reading this information,” said community member Helen Taylor.

“I came to find out more about our waterways from the experts to educate myself.”

Visits to local beef and dairy farms working to reduce nutrient loss off farm were a highlight of the trip.

The Haddon family, who run one of the largest dairy farms in the Catchment, have been working with GeoCatch to upgrade their effluent system and have participated in soil testing programs.

Community member, Ian Rotheram, was keen to see firsthand how effluent is managed on farm.

“I didn’t expect dairy effluent management to be so complex,” he said.

“I thought dairy sheds accounted for the majority of effluent, however it was interesting to hear how most of it is managed beyond the dairy shed across the rest of the farm.”

Beef farmer, Ross Prater shared his story about fencing over 5km of creeks on his Walsall property with support from GeoCatch, protecting 19ha of native vegetation on his farm.

Ross is also a keen participant of GeoCatch’s soil testing program and was thrilled with the agronomic support that the project provided and the difference it’s made to his pasture and fertiliser use.

“I believe that if we as farmers have a future, we have to look after the environment,” Ross said.

“The bus trip was a great way to showcase the projects and the people working in our Catchment to improve water quality,” said Felicity.

“The feedback showed that it was a great way for community members to better understand what is being done and how important this work is.”

The Revitalising Geographe Waterways program is supported by the State Government to improve water quality, waterway health and management of Geographe waterways.

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