Willoughby City Council (WCC) Creek restoration / e.restore Program
Willoughby Council has been implementing restoration projects in the creeks within the Council area. Some of the projects are related to the scope of e.restore program.
This program has been made possible due to an environmental levy. Instituted in June 2000 the levy is a three year three million dollar program used to protect and manage Willoughby’s environment. Projects include:
Clearwater Creek Revival
Sediment from building sites, sewer overflows and litter have reduced the water quality of our creeks to unacceptably low levels. Additionally, human disturbance to bushland has led to creek erosion and weed invasion of creekline vegetation. The revival of our creeks involves a number of different activities:
Building gross pollutant traps and litter traps on major stormwater drains to trap rubbish and litter from stormwater before it enters creeks.
Stormwater outlet rehabilitation works: these outlets are where the stormwater pipes end and discharge stormwater into bushland, which has caused significant soil erosion. These outlets are lined with boulders and rocks to prevent further erosion.
Removal of weeds and other bush regeneration activities in creekline vegetation.
Catchment Awareness Project
This project aims to raise the awareness amongst children and the general community about storm water impacts. In the last year over 1,000 children from 9 primary schools and 4 high schools participated in Council’s Stormwater Pollution & Creeks Education Program. Fifteen displays on catchment protection issues were also held across the Council area.
This program consists of a number of different activities, including:
Talks to classes
The “Drop it in the street and it will end up in your creek” colouring-in and poster competition for primary schools
Drain stencilling in schools.
The National Water Bug Survey.
By participating in these activities, these children learnt about stormwater pollution, how it affects their local creek and what they can do to keep their creek, Middle Harbour and the Lane Cove River clean.
Enhance Harbour and River Foreshores
Project aims involve the improvement of drainage lines and stormwater outlets, including channel armouring, revegetation and rubbish removal. Some of the activities achieved were the enhancement of 800m of the Lane Cove River foreshore, the complete restoration of Artarmon Reserve Creek and the repair and stabilisation of damaged sections of sea walls in Castle Cove, along Castlecrag’s northern escarpment and in Northbridge, with sandstone boulders.
Water Monitoring Program
Council has recently commenced a Water Monitoring Program designed to assess the water quality of local creeks and streams. Water samples are collected monthly from major creeks and streams within the area and are analysed for a range of physical, biological and bacteriological parameters. The aim of this program is to provide long term data which will enable Council to identify major sources of pollution within our waterways and will allow Council to implement appropriate management techniques to improve water quality.
Main Creeks within Willoughby Council area
Some of the creeks projects are:
Middle Harbour Catchment
Scotts Creek is one of the most degraded watercourses within the Willoughby Council area. It runs from the Chatswood CBD and industrial area to the beautiful Sugarloaf Bay. The high number of point sources entering the bushland and the physical characteristics of Scotts Creek means that the whole of the creek is receiving polluted urban runoff.
Currently Willoughby Council is working on the regeneration of bushland adjacent to Scotts Creek. The works include removal and control of noxious weeds, revegetation and follow-up monitoring.
At Muston Park, the concrete channel that once was part of Scotts Creek was turned into a natural watercourse. The channel was relined with sandstone and weirs were created in order to slow down the water allowing sediment to settle out. Extensive planting has been also carried out on the banks and in the water.
Further work to clean up the creek including rubbish traps and education of shoppers is under way. The project under Stormwater Trust funding ‘Provision of Litter Control System for the Chatswood CBD and residential areas in the Scotts Creek Catchment’ intended to capture gross pollutants flowing from the busy Chatswood CBD and residential areas. It is done by placing rubbish traps in several strategically chosen pits in the CBD and one large trap in the Scotts Creek stormwater channel, which drains the main part of the catchment. Signage and information about the trap location and effectiveness are ways of reinforcing the education message at the source. There will be plaques placed on the footpath next to pits with traps in them alerting shoppers to their presence and the amount of rubbish being captured.
Flat Rock Gully was once a natural valley with waterfalls, and a tidal estuary. From the mid 1930s until as recently as 1985 tipping operations filled the upper area, resulting in major environmental impacts, such as loss of flora and fauna, contamination of the creek line and stormwater runoff carrying pollutants to the catchment.
Currently the area includes historical sites such as an incinerator built in 1934, a well preserved example of Walter Burley Griffin’s architecture; the suspension bridge constructed in 1892 and rebuilt in the 1930’s; and Fatty Dawson’s ruins, remains of a sandstone house and piggery from the 1870’s. The area is also contains aboriginal heritage sites.
Flat Rock Gully and Bicentennial reserve provide a large integrated open space corridor leading to Long Bay with extensive remnant bushland close to urban areas. The bush provides habitat for some rare plant and animal communities and forms a valuable natural resource for environmental education.
Despite human impacts the creek system still provides habitat for a number of aquatic species including mullet, common jolly tails, striped gudgeons, long-finned eels, long-necked turtles, frogs and water birds.
Many birds can be seen, e.g. eastern yellow robin, grey fantail, eastern whipbird, tawny frogmouth, golden whistler, superb blue wren, spotted pardalote and red-browed firetail. Spherical nests in trees (dreys) indicate the presence of ringtail possums. Eastern water dragons may be seen sunning themselves on rocks.
Being an important natural and historical area, Willoughby Council, together with community groups as the Flat Rock Landcare Group, have been developing a series of revegetation and bush regeneration projects, along with industry awareness and schools programs.
Revegetation and Bush regeneration – To re establish native vegetation, improve creek health and wildlife habitat, qualified bush regeneration contractors and council staff along with some volunteers are planting native species and controlling noxious weeds. This work is done in accordance with the urban Bushland Plan of Management and the Flat Rock Gully and Bicentennial Reserve Plan of Management. Establishment of bush friendly backyards in residences fringing on Flat Rock Gully is also encouraged.
Industry awareness – there is an education program liaising with industry on pollution and erosion control issues. One of the initiatives is the distribution of information on current stormwater management practices on constructions sites.
School programs – aimed to develop catchment awareness among school children by involving them in activities such as: interpretive magic bush walks, wildlife watch, water testing, drain-stencilling, regeneration, composting and recycling initiatives. The schools participating are: Northbridge Public School, St. Philip Neri Primary School and Willoughby Girls High School.
To guarantee easy public access to the areas to be revegetated or restored, access tracks were built. Despite its past degradation, presently Flat Rock Gully and Bicentennial reserve are examples of restoration in progress.
Lane Cove River Catchment
Blue Gum Creek is within the Lane Cove River catchment and is surrounded by areas of important remnant vegetation. The health of the creek suffers from the pollutants coming from the Pacific Highway, houses and commercial premises in the catchment.
Willoughby Council has developed a series of projects to reduce these impacts, such as: sediment traps, trash racks and creek bank revegetation. An interpretative program to educate and inform the local community about the projects and how they can actively help to protect and restore the creek has commenced.
Brazil Case Studies
Instituto Ambiental Ratones (IAR)
Instituto Ambiental Ratones is a non-government, non-profit organisation, working on environmental education, preservation and restoration on Santa Catarina Island. Some of the IAR projects include:
IAR has been involved in a series of environmental education and interpretation projects, such as: establishing signed tracks and developing a visitation plan for Rio Vermelho forest park. IAR is also responsible for the management of Olandi-Jurerê Reserve. a joint initiative between private and non-government organisations. The area is situated in the buffer zone of the Ecological Reserve of Carijós and has one of the last remnants of restinga forest on Santa Catarina Island. An interpretive track was built in the area and a program for school kids is being developed in the reserve.
Mar Limpo Project
This project aims to enhance awareness of ocean pollution, by involving the local community, tourists and school kids in environment related activities, such as water monitoring and competitions.
One of IAR projects is to restore an area of 30 hectares surrounding the Pau do Barco River, which is part of the Saco Grande mangrove catchment area. The environmental degradation of the riverbanks and water pollution are impacting on the Ecological Reserve of Carijós. The project will be developed over a period of 3 years and revegetation of the riverbanks and environmental education are proposed.