Water, water everywhere

“WILSONS RIVER is our drinking water.”

And it needs our help, according to Rous Water’s catchment asset manager, Anthony Acret.

The Wilsons River flows through Lismore, quietly sliding under bridges and snaking around gentle bends – it is the spine of the catchment area covering 566 sq km.

Mr Acret keeps a close eye on the river because its health affects the amount of processing needed at the Rous Water treatment plant at Howards Grass, five kilometres out of Lismore.

“If the water quality drops, we switch off the treatment plant and use water from Rocky Creek Dam,” he said.

This happens about 10 times a year.

Water sampling officer for Rous Water, Michael Rowe, knows a lot about the state of the Wilsons River catchment. Every week he tests the water quality at five sites. It takes him 10 minutes to measures salinity and oxygen levels and run pesticide and herbicide tests.

Last Thursday the pH level was 7.5, which was normal, Mr Rowe said.

“If it goes down to six or five, I investigate the cause.”

A major concern for Rous Water is the potential for human pathogens that come from sewage and septic tanks. Animal effluent can contain concentrations of pathogens.

“We don’t want those in the waterways, even though the treatment plant is designed to deal with them,” Mr Acret said.

Rous Water has had to drag dead cows from the river in the past; but with no overall river authority, Mr Acret enlisted the support and input from a group of people keen to improve the health of waterways in the Wilsons River catchment area.

The Wilson River Catchment Management Plan working group meets regularly to discuss the creeks and rivers. The group includes: Five State Government agencies; six local government organisations such as councils; three Aboriginal groups; six representatives from various Landcare groups; five representatives from industry groups such as farmers; and seven other community groups such as EnviTE.

Last month the group released a Wilsons River Catchment Management Plan. “The key to the plan succeeding is everyone doing their bit,” Mr Acret said.

Ross Garsden, from Far North Coast Weeds, wanted alligator weed removed because it can choke river systems.

David Pont, from Bangalow Land and Rivercare, encouraged Landcare groups to plant trees.

“We can bring this river back,” Mr Pont said.

Rik Whitehead, from the NSW Department of Industry and Investment (formerly DPI), said: “We work with farmers to avoid overgrazing and erosion run-off into waterways.”

‘Get involved’ is Mr Acret’s message. To find out more about what you can do, go to www.wilsonsriver.wikispaces.com or call 6621 8055.

What you can do

 • Be aware of your local creek system

 • Ensure that only clean rainwater leaves your property through the stormwater system

 • In rural areas help restore plants on the banks of your local creek

 • Remove weeds in waterways

 • Fence the riparian zone to keep cattle out.



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