Community interest high in Lower Vasse River - RGW https://rgw.dwer.wa.gov.au Revitalising Geographe Waterways Thu, 10 Dec 2020 03:19:18 +0000 en-AU hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.3 Community interest high in Lower Vasse River https://rgw.dwer.wa.gov.au/community-interest-high-in-lower-vasse-river/ Thu, 10 Dec 2020 03:19:18 +0000 https://rgw.dwer.wa.gov.au/?p=7050 Over 50 people from the local community and management agencies attended a community information session on the Lower Vasse River at the end of November. The event, coordinated by the City of Busselton, aimed to update the community on action that has been undertaken and planned to improve water quality in the Lower Vasse River. […]

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Over 50 people from the local community and management agencies attended a community information session on the Lower Vasse River at the end of November. The event, coordinated by the City of Busselton, aimed to update the community on action that has been undertaken and planned to improve water quality in the Lower Vasse River.

The Lower Vasse River suffers poor water quality over summer months due to elevated nutrients and low flows over summer that contribute to toxic algal blooms, which have been an ongoing concern for the local community for many years.

Posters of management actions undertaken over the last 10 years to reduce nutrients, early concept designs of the Living Streams project and the Vasse Diversion Drain upgrade were on display with representatives from the City of Busselton, Department of Water and Environmental Regulation and Water Corporation on hand to answer questions from the community.

Presentations were given to provide an update to the attendees on the value of the river, actions over the last five years to improve management and water quality, potential future approaches to reduce algal blooms through the Living Streams project and Vasse Diversion Drain upgrade project.

An important part of the evening was a presentation from two community members on the Lower Vasse River Management Advisory group. The group was established to support the City of Busselton implement the Lower Vasse River Water Management Plan. The community members shared their experiences with this group and passion for improving water quality of the river.

An evaluation of the event completed by attendees was very positive with all respondents satisfied with the presentations. The management of the Lower Vasse River over the last five years was rated positively by 75% of respondents and 94% supporting the proposed ‘Living Stream’ approach for the future management of the Lower Vasse River.

The City of Busselton will continue to lead the management of the Lower Vasse River through implementation of the Lower Vasse River Water Management Plan with support of the Lower Vasse River Management Advisory Group.

Further information can be found on the on the Lower Vasse River page, the City of Busselton Your Say on Waterway Management and Water Corporation Vasse Diversion Drain engagement hub.

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Fertilising for the Future https://rgw.dwer.wa.gov.au/fertilising-for-the-future/ Fri, 04 Dec 2020 02:09:23 +0000 https://rgw.dwer.wa.gov.au/?p=7044 Over 30 representatives from the Fertiliser industry, state government departments and researchers met in Busselton recently to hear the latest research to improve nutrient use efficiency on grazing farms in south west WA. The event, titled Fertilising for the Future: production, profitability, and the environment, showcased several on-farm fertiliser trials being undertaken across south west […]

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Over 30 representatives from the Fertiliser industry, state government departments and researchers met in Busselton recently to hear the latest research to improve nutrient use efficiency on grazing farms in south west WA.

The event, titled Fertilising for the Future: production, profitability, and the environment, showcased several on-farm fertiliser trials being undertaken across south west Western Australia to assess nutrient impacts on production and water quality.

The presentations highlighted the importance of getting the nutrient balance right in optimising production and minimising loss to the environment.

Trials undertaken in the uPtake project showed the addition of phosphorus in excess of production requirements resulted in no increase in production, but added significantly to the leaching of phosphorus into the groundwater in some of the trials.

The same trials demonstrated that when nutrients other than phosphorus were applied, there were significant productivity increases.  This indicates these other nutrients such as nitrogen, potassium and sulphur more often constrain pasture production than phosphorus.

With over 70% of phosphorus and nitrogen entering south west waterways and estuaries coming off grazing land, and fertiliser being a major cost of production, the research findings were well received.

Other presentations focused on timing and application of nitrogen fertilisers, phosphorus efficient pastures, constraints to root growth and using soil amendments to reduce phosphorus loss from grazing paddocks.

A theme of the event explored the role of the fertiliser industry in improving water quality in south west estuaries.

A previous survey of 40 fertiliser industry representatives showed an overwhelming support for industry playing a major role advocating for water quality and supporting farmers make fertiliser decisions that were good for the farmer and for the environment.

An evaluation of the event showed 100% of participants agreed it was a valuable day with over 80% feeling they had learnt something of value that they could apply in their working life.

The event was hosted by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation through the uPtake project, which is funded through the State Government’s Healthy Estuaries WA program and the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program with in-kind support from fertiliser, dairy and beef industry groups.

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Information flows at Vasse Estuary webinar https://rgw.dwer.wa.gov.au/information-flows-at-vasse-estuary-webinar/ Thu, 22 Oct 2020 01:33:13 +0000 https://rgw.dwer.wa.gov.au/?p=6965 The complexities of water management and seawater trials in the Vasse estuary were demystified last week at a science webinar hosted by GeoCatch. The webinar was presented by Dr Linda Kalnejais from Department of Water and Environmental Regulation and is part of a series of webinars that is exploring the Vasse Wonnerup wetlands. Linda explained […]

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The complexities of water management and seawater trials in the Vasse estuary were demystified last week at a science webinar hosted by GeoCatch.

The webinar was presented by Dr Linda Kalnejais from Department of Water and Environmental Regulation and is part of a series of webinars that is exploring the Vasse Wonnerup wetlands.

Linda explained to participants how scientists are trying to both understand and improve water quality in the Vasse estuary by trialling changes to gate operations on the Vasse surge barrier.

“These estuaries are highly valued by the local community and internationally due to the large number and diversity of waterbirds they support” said Linda. “But they also suffer from water quality problems like algal blooms and fish kills, driven by high levels of nutrients in the system”.

“Our research is looking at what positive impact we can have on water quality by changing the timing and amount of seawater we let into the estuary over summer months”.

Trials began at the end of 2014 and the results were not always as expected.

One of the early learnings was that the stratification or layering of the water column was occurring, with denser saltier and/or cooler water at the bottom.  This bottom layer then doesn’t mix with the surface, preventing oxygen moving throughout the water column.  This is one of the main reasons the Vasse estuary exit channel can have low oxygen levels in summer.

“In 2015 we let seawater in slowly and found that this actually had a negative effect on oxygen levels in deeper water due to salinity stratification” said Linda.

But in 2017 we didn’t let seawater in and we still got stratification, this time it was a temperature stratification.  With the gates closed the water in the channel was very still and the surface waters became much hotter than those at the bottom.  This condition also leads to low oxygen in deeper waters.

More recent trials have found that letting seawater in quickly lessens stratification, and opening the gates early in December interrupts the first algae bloom.

“We are now also leaving the fish gates open all summer which gives enough water to reduce temperature stratification, while allowing fish to pass downstream to the Wonnerup Inlet” said Linda.

“This method has been used for three successive years and while we may never have a perfect recipe, monitoring has shown that we have vastly reduced the number of hours of low oxygen in the bottom layer and improved phytoplankton numbers in the estuary.”

Because seawater is being let into the system earlier and more seawater is being let in overall, it is important that scientists monitor any changes to the ecology of the Vasse-Wonnerup.

“Water levels in autumn are now 10cm higher, and the upper estuary is now wet in summer where it previously dried out. We are monitoring aquatic plants, macroinvertebrates, fish and waterbirds to determine any impacts” said Linda.

In 2019 bird numbers on the Vasse declined substantially after the gates were opened. The cause of the decline is unknow but may have been caused by increased salinity and/or water levels due to the seawater inflows.

“It is a balancing act between protecting ecological values upstream whilst improving water quality in the channel to prevent algal blooms and fish kills”.

The Vasse Wonnerup Wetlands Partnership leads the management of the Vasse Estuary with representatives from Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, Primary Industries and Regional Development, City of Busselton and Water Corporation.

The final webinar in the series will be held on 11 November and presented by Kim Williams from Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, who will be speaking about the amazing waterbird life on the Vasse-Wonnerup. To register visit the GeoCatch website or Facebook page.

This webinar has been recorded and is available to view on GeoCatch’s YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWfXhbCFVOQ&t=2422s

This webinar series is funded through the state government’s Revitalising Geographe Waterways program which aims to improve water quality, waterway health and management of Geographe waterways.

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Geographe Farmers protecting Geographe Bay https://rgw.dwer.wa.gov.au/geographe-farmers-protecting-geographe-bay/ Fri, 18 Sep 2020 03:07:00 +0000 https://rgw.dwer.wa.gov.au/?p=6956 Farmers interested in changing agriculture practices in the Geographe catchment had the opportunity to help guide future water quality actions last week at a workshop hosted by GeoCatch. The farmers were given the opportunity to say what they thought could be done on Geographe farms to reduce nutrients entering waterways, while supporting farmer’s triple bottom […]

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Farmers interested in changing agriculture practices in the Geographe catchment had the opportunity to help guide future water quality actions last week at a workshop hosted by GeoCatch.

The farmers were given the opportunity to say what they thought could be done on Geographe farms to reduce nutrients entering waterways, while supporting farmer’s triple bottom line. Ideas from the group ranged from education and research through to practical ideas including holding water back on paddocks and getting higher numbers of farmers to participate in soil testing programs to understand and improve soil health.

Felicity Bradshaw, GeoCatch Chair and local farmer highlighted the value of hearing from some of our young and progressive farmers who were part of the group.

“I felt inspired to hear from such a diverse, knowledgeable and experienced group of farmers who obviously care about the environment and farming” said Felicity.

Over the last 10 years Geographe farmers have collectively reduced an estimated 31.7 tonne of nitrogen and 4.6 tonne of phosphorus entering Geographe Bay and the Vasse Wonnerup wetlands.  $4.4 million in funding has been used to support farmers with another $1.5 million in-kind from farmers to undertake soil testing, fence off waterways and upgrade dairy effluent systems to reduce nutrient loss off farm to achieve this result.

GeoCatch project officer Bree Brown said that with agriculture contributing the largest source of nutrients entering Geographe waterways, wetlands and Geographe Bay, farmers have a critical role in improving water quality in this catchment.

“GeoCatch have been working with farmers over the last 10 years to support them with soil testing across 40% of grazing paddocks in the catchment, fencing off waterways and upgrading dairy effluent systems.  Although this has been a mammoth effort by the farmers and ourselves, we still have a long way to go to reduce nutrients sufficiently to reduce  nutrient impacts on our waterways and the Bay” said Bree.

The purpose of the workshop was to gain input into future actions farmers could do to reduce nutrient loss off agriculture land and identify support that farmers may need to improve on their past performance.

Farmer input will be used to inform actions in the updated Vasse Wonnerup wetlands Geographe Bay water quality improvement plan, which will form the basis of the next 10-year of targeted action to improve water quality in Geographe waterways.

“Getting input from farmers early in the process will ensure we co-develop practical solutions for reducing nutrients off farm and support farmers in protecting Geographe Bay” said Bree.

Farmers who could not attend the workshop can still provide input to the new water quality improvement plan through a survey currently being run by GeoCatch. To provide your input, please fill in the Survey Monkey at the following link https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CTTNRVG

 

 

 

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Wetland webinars share science with the community https://rgw.dwer.wa.gov.au/wetland-webinars-share-science-with-the-community/ Wed, 12 Aug 2020 07:44:54 +0000 https://rgw.dwer.wa.gov.au/?p=6945 Community members interested in the natural values of the Vasse Wonnerup wetlands will have the opportunity to hear first-hand from scientists who will be presenting via a new monthly webinar series hosted by GeoCatch. Since 2017, seasonal ecological monitoring has been undertaken on the Vasse Wonnerup wetlands to help scientists and managers understand the potential […]

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Community members interested in the natural values of the Vasse Wonnerup wetlands will have the opportunity to hear first-hand from scientists who will be presenting via a new monthly webinar series hosted by GeoCatch.

Since 2017, seasonal ecological monitoring has been undertaken on the Vasse Wonnerup wetlands to help scientists and managers understand the potential longer-term impacts on the ecology that may occur through changes to the water regime over summer.

The Vasse Wonnerup wetlands have extraordinary plant and animal life that changes dramatically throughout the seasons. Finding out how managers can help improve water quality and aesthetic values in the wetlands without impacting their ecological values has been a key component of the research.

GeoCatch Chair Felicity Bradshaw says that the webinar series is just one of the ways GeoCatch has been working differently to keep the community informed and up to date during Covid 19 pandemic.

“We are excited to be using these new online platforms to share important information about our catchment with the community” said Felicity.

The first webinar on 12 August will focus on aquatic plants and how they relate to wetland health. Dr Jane Chambers and Dr Robyn Paice from Murdoch University will be showcasing their results, as well as being available to answer questions from webinar participants.

Webinar topics in coming months will include fish and macroinvertebrate by Dr James Tweedley from Murdoch University; water quality and gate management by Dr Linda Kalnejais from Department of Water and Environmental Regulation; and migratory and permanent waterbirds by Kim Williams from Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions.

For more information on the webinars and upcoming events, visit the GeoCatch website or Revitalising Geographe Waterways Events page.

This webinar series is funded through the state government’s Revitalising Geographe Waterways program which aims to improve water quality, waterway health and management of Geographe waterways.

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Fertiliser trials protecting waterways and farmers https://rgw.dwer.wa.gov.au/fertiliser-trials-protecting-waterways-and-farmers/ Fri, 31 Jul 2020 06:04:20 +0000 https://rgw.dwer.wa.gov.au/?p=6906 Farmers in the Geographe catchment are set to benefit from local fertiliser trial results which are showing that costs can be saved by not applying phosphorus fertiliser on paddocks that have adequate P levels. The results have come from the first year of the state government’s uPtake trial program where 14 of 19 sites showed […]

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Farmers in the Geographe catchment are set to benefit from local fertiliser trial results which are showing that costs can be saved by not applying phosphorus fertiliser on paddocks that have adequate P levels.

The results have come from the first year of the state government’s uPtake trial program where 14 of 19 sites showed no productivity response to phosphorus applications.

Twelve trials showed a productivity response to the addition of basal nutrients (nitrogen, sulphur, potassium and micronutrients) demonstrating the importance of addressing the limiting nutrient in the soil to maximise productivity and improve water quality.

Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) Manager of Aquatic Science Malcolm Robb said the result was consistent with national soil testing of more than 22000 paddocks over the last 10 years showing 16700 paddocks had sufficient or excess phosphorus in the soil to meet pasture needs.

“Having confidence in the science behind the soil testing program is critical for farmers to change their fertiliser practices and improving the health of our waterways,” Mr Robb said

uPtake has been running since last year to help refine fertiliser applications so we can reduce nutrients being washed off grazing farms across the South West and into waterways, threatening the health of our waterways and the bottom line of farmers.

“Optimising fertiliser use; dairy effluent management; and identifying and evaluating new whole-of-farm best practice to reduce nutrient losses to waterways is a win for both farmers and the environment,” Mr Robb said.

Farmers are currently encouraged to soil test their paddocks and calculate their fertiliser rates based on data collected under the national project. The trials expand on data from the national project, to ensure fertiliser calculations are relevant to Western Australia and the Swan Coastal Plain’s sandy soils.

A technical reference group has been established to develop the design of the trials, with scientists from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) and Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) and the agriculture sector involved.

In 2020, the Geographe catchment will be hosting two trial sites. Field days and opportunities to farmers to see the results will occur throughout the year.

The project is funded with $3.26 million from the State Government’s Healthy Estuaries WA program (formerly Regional Estuaries Initiative); and $2.35 million through the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program with in-kind support from fertiliser, dairy and beef industry groups.

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$111 million investment in critical regional programs https://rgw.dwer.wa.gov.au/111-million-investment-in-critical-regional-programs-2/ Thu, 30 Jul 2020 06:08:42 +0000 https://rgw.dwer.wa.gov.au/?p=6902 https://www.mediastatements.wa.gov.au/Pages/McGowan/2020/05/111-million-dollar-investment-in-critical-regional-programs.aspx

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Science made community-friendly for Vasse-Wonnerup wetlands https://rgw.dwer.wa.gov.au/science-made-community-friendly-for-vasse-wonnerup-wetlands-2/ Thu, 30 Jul 2020 06:03:39 +0000 https://rgw.dwer.wa.gov.au/?p=6898 https://www.mediastatements.wa.gov.au/Pages/McGowan/2019/09/Science-made-community-friendly-for-Vasse-Wonnerup-wetlands.aspx

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Soil testing opportunity for farmers now open https://rgw.dwer.wa.gov.au/soil-testing-opportunity-for-farmers-now-open/ Wed, 29 Jul 2020 02:49:41 +0000 https://rgw.dwer.wa.gov.au/?p=6870 Geographe farmers interested in finding out more about the nutrient status of their paddocks are being invited to register for this summer’s soil testing program being offered through GeoCatch, in partnership with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD). The popular program will provide farmers with whole-of-farm soil testing in the summer of […]

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Geographe farmers interested in finding out more about the nutrient status of their paddocks are being invited to register for this summer’s soil testing program being offered through GeoCatch, in partnership with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD).

The popular program will provide farmers with whole-of-farm soil testing in the summer of 2020-21, followed by colour-coded nutrient maps, spring tissue testing and access to agronomic advice. Farmers who took part last year said they would highly recommend it to anyone keen to learn more about their soil and understand how they can be more efficient with fertiliser.

83 farmers have been involved in the soil testing program in the Geographe catchment since 2015,  with an estimated reduction of around 730 kg of phosphorus entering catchment waterways annually from improved fertiliser management. GeoCatch Project Officer Kim Archer says better management of soil helps to both save money on fertiliser and reduce nutrients entering rivers and Geographe Bay.

“Many farmers have been surprised to find they have adequate phosphorus levels across much of the farm and could divert their attention and dollars to addressing other nutrients limiting production” said Kim.

“Over 80% of paddocks sampled across the south west are too acidic, so many farmers are redirecting the money saved on their fertiliser bill to applying lime. This is a win for them, and for our waterways”.

Farmers are also finding a lot of benefit with the extra advice and support provided at local workshops where they are presented with their soil test results and nutrient maps.

“Feedback from farmers last year showed that they learnt a lot from discussing their results with DPIRD officers and local agronomists who were available to help interpret maps and results” said Kim.

The program is open to beef, dairy and sheep grazing enterprises in the Geographe catchment. Farmers outside this area may also be eligible for soil testing under the new Healthy Estuaries WA program.

Farmers wanting more information or registering their interest can visit https://estuaries.dwer.wa.gov.au/strategies/sustainable-agriculture/soil-testing/.

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School gets a Bay OK welcome https://rgw.dwer.wa.gov.au/school-gets-a-bay-ok-welcome/ Fri, 19 Jun 2020 04:53:54 +0000 https://rgw.dwer.wa.gov.au/?p=6851 The entrance to Cornerstone Christian College in Dunsborough has received a Bay OK garden makeover following the establishment of a water and nutrient wise garden through GeoCatch. The new garden not only provides an attractive space and welcoming entrance to the school, but also shows the community how gardening in sandy soil can be rewarding […]

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The entrance to Cornerstone Christian College in Dunsborough has received a Bay OK garden makeover following the establishment of a water and nutrient wise garden through GeoCatch.

The new garden not only provides an attractive space and welcoming entrance to the school, but also shows the community how gardening in sandy soil can be rewarding and successful.

Principal of Cornerstone Dunsborough, Judy Nolan, is excited by the completed project. “The garden looks amazing! As it grows it’s going to look so nice and will be a place kids will love to go” said Judy.

The new garden has been specially designed to retain sightlines, provide and control access across the site and use quality landscaping. The garden will connect seamlessly to the future landscaping alongside and against the school buildings.

“GeoCatch also incorporated our Woolworths Junior Landcare project into the new garden, creating the opportunity to get students to plant the area around the big old peppermint tree with swordsedge, which will improve its appearance and habitat value to wildlife’ said Judy.

The design for the rest of the site features round spaces amidst planted areas that will be used as outdoor ‘class rooms’.

GeoCatch’s Bay OK Officer Lisa Massey says the landscaping has been installed in line with the  three overarching Bay OK gardening principles: nurture the soil, conserve water and enhance biodiversity.

“The most important stage in this project was to firstly improve the soil with applications of clay and compost that will hold moisture and nutrient in the soil so that the plants will benefit, and our waterways will not be impacted by run-off” said Lisa.

“This garden will also not be irrigated after the first summer, so it features native plant species selected for their low water requirement”.

The demonstration Bay OK garden will be visited by the school community and new residents to learn how to garden successfully and responsibly in the region.

GeoCatch’s Bay OK Gardens project supports urban residents to improve water quality in local waterways and Geographe Bay by adopting the Bay OK principles in the garden.

For further information on Bay OK gardening, visit the GeoCatch website geocatch.asn.au

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

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