Water for Wildlife Report

A grant from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) was made to the society, as an incorporated body, on behalf of Peter Ridgeway, to support the costs of his volunteer Water for Wildlife project during the Australian Bushfire and Drought emergency. Peter, who works with Greater Sydney Local Land Services, assisted by many volunteers, including OFF members, and numerous local community groups purchased, installed and monitored water stations for native animals from January to June 2020.

Our direct impact

  • Hundreds of animal and bird lives were saved by provision of clean drinking water through the months following extreme drought and fire
  • At least 24 native wildlife species benefited at 67 water stations (from total of 150 stations, some of which were not engaged depending on local conditions)
Water stations in red and fire impact areas in grey

Our indirect impact

  • Over 100 people are now trained in creating and installing water stations
  • A supply depot of 150 water stations (Mulgoa) and 50 water stations (Hawkesbury) are ready for future emergencies
  • We developed a water station design that is effective, cheap, long-lasting and uses locally available materials. We developed a process for training volunteers, deploying water stations and monitoring them that is legal, strait-forward and practical. Our design and process were freely shared and were quickly taken up by independent groups:
    • Science for Wildlife Inc. (Blue Mountains)
    • Hawkesbury Environment Network
    • Penrith City Council Bushcare
    • Campbelltown Council Bushcare

What we did – This grant allowed us to:

  • purchase materials and construct 200 long-term water supply stations
  • purchase automated wildlife cameras to monitor stations and hand-held GPS to retrieve them in areas outside mobile reception
  • install 67 stations in bushland during the 2020 drought and bushfire emergency (see map below)
  • train >100 volunteers in constructing and installing long-term water supply stations
  • build an equipment stockpile at Mulgoa to ensure a more rapid response to future wildlife emergencies


Who we worked with:

  • Local Landcare, Bushcare and Wildlife Care groups – approx 100 water stations across all land tenures
  • Local government (councils) – approx 80 stations in local reserves
  • State government (LLS) – approx 20 water stations by staff in restricted access sites
  • Landowners & Unaffiliated volunteers – approx 40 water stations  across all land tenures

Where we installed emergency water:

Water stations in red and fire impact areas in grey
  • Emergency water has been installed across the Greater Sydney region including the Blue Mountains, Southern Highlands and Western Sydney.
  • 80% of all stations were deployed to burn zones (typically in unburnt vegetation immediately adjoining the burn front) and 30% in areas affected by severe drought.
  • Water stations were deployed across all tenures including National Parks (with approval), local reserves, and private land

Wildlife we helped:

  • At least 24 wildlife species observed drinking from stations
  • Mammals including Kangaroos (four species), Possums, and Wombats
  • Birds included Lyrebirds, Kingfishers, Ducks, Honeyeaters and Robins.
  • Just one feral species has been observed drinking from a station (a single instance of a European Red Fox) in addition to one animal (a single European Hare) visiting but apparently not drinking from the station.








What we learnt:

  • Our IFAW water station design works: we perfected designs of 20 liter and 50 litre water stations using locally available materials. The designs proved cheap, quick to assemble, long-lasting and field-sturdy. It was quickly adopted by other groups supporting wildlife
  • Water supply stations should be used to assist wildlife during drought & fire events: Long-term water supply stations are highly effective in helping a wide range of native species survive extreme drought and fire
  • Water supply stations should be kept out for at least 2 months after these events: stations are used by wildlife for at least 2 months following rain, despite other water being available, most likely because of contamination of natural water sources with ash, silt and mud
  • Arboreal water stations are not useful (in our area): water stations in trees were not used by target animals. Other ecologists are reporting similar findings. Given the time-costs of installation in trees we will continue to target terrestrial water stations

Financial Accounting

  • Receipts for all grant expenditure are attached
  • We spent a total $6,006.86 from $6,000 awarded. 
  • Additional funding spent includes:
    • Ace Ohlsson – 40 extra bowls – $1,580 (delivered, awaiting invoice)
    • PTS - 8 monitoring cameras  – $3,227 (via Mulgoa Landcare)
  • We estimate the following in-kind contributions:
    • Greater Sydney Local Land Services: 120 hours expert staff ($9,600 in-kind)
    • Oatley Flora & Fauna Inc: 40 hours volunteers
  • Local volunteer groups: 500 hours (mostly installation & inspection of water stations & travel)


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