Perils of Plastic- Prof Banati visits Myles Dunphy Reserve

IMG_1674Our Stream Watch group were fortunate to have a on site visit from Professor Banati Leader of the ANSTO Plastics project.
The increased presence of certain degradable plastics, including biodegradable plastics, is a challenge for the recycling of plastics more generally since the various plastics can be difficult to sort. Contamination of the waste stream with similar appearing but non-recyclable material by many seen as the Achilles heel of recycling.  A significant portion of plastic waste ends up in our oceans.
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Professor Banati said the team’s observations were changing perceptions about how the increased degradability of a material, such as plastic, may help to reduce the litter problem but, if not properly managed, might cause a contamination problem in the future.
Recent research shows that this is problematic due to the chemicals contained within plastics, as well as the pollutants that plastic attract once they are in the marine environment. For more see Guardian Dec 2014


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 ANSTO contributes to this collaborative research effort by using nuclear technologies to measure minute quantities of material such as the contaminants potentially leaching or being absorbed by degrading plastic material. ANSTO has national and international collaborations current work is being undertaken with Monash University, UTAS and CSIRO.



IMG_1676Other Research

In a new study, published Dec 2014 by the journal Royal Society Open Science, a British scientist reports the riddle of the “missing” plastic as solved: It sits in deep waters, broken down into tiny fibers and embedded in the sediment of the most remote places on Earth.

The discovery of microplastic in such remote marine habitats raises new questions about the potential for plastic debris to contaminate the food chain. Scientists have already documented that fish, birds, turtles, and other marine animals eat plastic. Thompson and his team found an even greater accumulation of plastic than previously suspected. The more plastic there is, he says, the more potential for toxicity to marine life.

Read more on the National Geographic article – Where has all the (Sea Trash) Plastic Gone

Mark Coure MP launches “Drains are Just for Rain”

Mark Coure 25 Nov (2)On 25 November, Mark Coure MP launched OFF storm water drain stencil project. The society plans to stencil 120 signs to raise awareness in the local community of potential environmental impacts on the Lime Kiln Bay wetland from urban activities. What goes down the drain ends up in the wetland and then into the Georges River.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE PROJECT

 

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Lime Kiln Bay Wetland Guided Walks

W8. long-necked tortoiseOFF is conducting free guided walks around the Wetland to show interested people how the wetlands improve the quality of storm water runoff and the abundant native plants and wildlife that the wetland supports.

  • Tuesday 8 December 10am – 12 noon
  • Saturday 12 December 3pm – 5pm

Meet at the corner of Waterfall Rd and Acacia St Oatley.

Lime Kiln Bay Brochure CoverThe walks are part of  a  project undertaken by the society to raise awareness in the local community of potential environmental impacts on the wetland from urban activities. What goes down the drain ends up in the wetland and then into the Georges River.

The project is being funded from the NSW Minister for the Environment’s Conservation Fund. It will benefit the local community and Council by improving the long-term health of local waterways and reducing maintenance costs of Council’s drainage infrastructure.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE PROJECT

 

Drains are Just for Rain

IMG_1449IMG_1428Look out for messages being painted on drains in the Penshurst /Mortdale /Oatley area in coming months.

 






DRAINS ARE JUST FOR RAIN” is the slogan of Oatley Flora and Fauna Conservation Society (OFF) ‘Lime Kiln Bay Wetland Awareness’ project.

OFF is proceeding with the project having received support and approval from Hurstville City Council for stencilling of drains that flow into Lime Kiln Bay Wetland.

IMG_1421The aim of the project is to raise awareness in the local community of potential environmental impacts on the wetland from urban activities. What goes down the drain ends up in the wetland and then into the Georges River.

IMG_1420OFF is also conducting free guided walks around the Wetland to show interested people how the wetlands improve the quality of stormwater runoff and the abundant native plants and wildlife that the wetland supports. The first two walks are scheduled for Tuesday 8 December 10am – 12 noon and Saturday 12 December 3pm – 5pm starting from the corner of Waterfall Rd and Acacia St Oatley.

The project is being funded from the NSW Minister for the Environment’s Conservation Fund. It will benefit the local community and Council by improving the long-term health of local waterways and reducing maintenance costs of Council’s drainage infrastructure.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE PROJECT

 

 

 

Coal Mining & Water Pollution

River bed crackingAt the October meeting of Oatley Flora and Fauna Conservation Society, Dr Ian Wright from the University of Western Sydney (UWS) presented startling evidence of environmental damage caused by coal mining in the Sydney Region. Dr Wright worked as a scientific officer with Sydney Water investigating the impact of human activities on creeks and rivers in the Sydney basin before taking up a research fellowship at UWS in freshwater ecology and water pollution.

Ian is now a full-time lecturer teaching students in water quality and management, environmental planning and environmental regulation areas. Conducting his research on a limited budget and often faced with a hostile reception from mining interests in the Blue Mountains and Southern Highlands, Dr Wright and his students have persevered, comparing water samples taken upstream of mining activity with those down stream. They have found significant deterioration in water quality attributable to waste water discharge from mining operations. Toxic levels of salt, bicarbonate, zinc, nickel and other minerals have impacted on aquatic life and degraded the waters flowing through prized wilderness areas and World Heritage sites. yshattered_river_bed

Long-wall mining, in particular, is responsible for subsidence in the bedrock of some creeks and streams feeding into Sydney’s water catchments. Dr Wright showed photographic evidence of streams simply disappearing into cracks, only to re-emerge further ‘downstream’ polluted by mining waste. Dr Wright was critical of the Environmental Protection Agency, responsible for regulating the discharge of wastewater from mines. Pollution licence conditions need to be tightened requiring mining companies to meet higher standards, although he conceded the regulator had lifted its game recently but only under pressure from the community and, in turn, government.

Asked how Oatley Flora & Fauna Conservation Society members could help to stop mining companies from causing environmental damage, Dr Wright suggested the best way would be to keep the pressure on our politicians to introduce more stringent rules on mining activities. Dr Wright gave an undertaking to keep the Society informed of future developments in the regulation of the coal industry.

Ian Wright-OFF-presentation-Short-8-nov-2015

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Impact of a coal mine waste discharge on water quality and aquatic ecosystems in the Blue Mountains World Heritage area.

FOR MORE INFORMATION SEE DR WRIGHT’S PUBLICATIONS CLICK HERE FOR MORE ABOUT UPLAND SWAMPS

15 NOVEMBER 2015 – LEADER ARTICLE “Coal Mining Risk revealed at Conservation Society meeting”

River Health Monitoring on Georges River

The Myles Dunphy Streamwatch group once again participated in River Health Monitoring by GRCC (Georges River Combined Council) for the Spring season. Our results for Myles Dunphy and Dairy Creek were similar to previous years. For more see River Health Report Cards

Macro Invertebrate ResultsIMG_1357

      The day at Dharawal started very foggy and a light drizzle as we tested the Iluka site in the upland swamp. It cleared up as we moved further away from the coast. We welcomed our new coordinator to Dharawal, He is passionate about his bugs and put on his waders at Cobong Creek.

IMG_1360IMG_1353CLICK HERE TO SEE GALLERY

Sydney Rivers in Pictures and Poetry

Baths and wharf 19 JulySydney has a significant number of rivers and their tributaries which touch the lives of the majority of Sydneysiders.  An e-book captures some of the unique qualities of these ecosystems and the people who live near them. Guide to Sydney Rivers has extraordinary photographs and poems celebrating our rivers.
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LONGWALL by DAEL ALLISON

Longwall: somewhere south of sydney
an unremarkable stream is made remarkable

by its vanished water.
wander your mind on a river, how it refracts

a skipping stone, disappears quicksilver
from your hand, envelops

your plummeting body.
waratah rivulet wrote water’s history in rapid

calligraphic scrawl
mirrored cloud-blow, kingfisher

impetus. it fed the woronora—damnedIMG_6823
for the shire.

now the quick, gleaming bed
is fissured, cracked wide open. dry rust

and ochre. hard landing.
machines craze the subterranean certainties

of rock.
longwalls 20 and 21 of peabody’s mine

chisel ancient strata with new calligraphies.
a shattering they’ll patch

uselessly with polyurethane.
in black flooding tunnels

mudeyes and caddisflies scratch the solid
meniscus, tap vainly

for light. men crack rocks for coalyshattered_river_bed
and rivers shudder.

throw a stone into water, hear only
clatter.

in sydney’s southern catchment lands
an unremarkable stream

is no longer a stream.

River bed cracking

Oatley Lions Festival – 17th October

IMG_1020OFF ran a stall at the Lions Festival, as it has done for many years. It was a lovely and successful day. Lots of friends and other interesting and interested people dropped in. The highlight of the day was the interactive model of the water catchment loaned from the Australian Museum. IMG_1021

The majority of humans live near some form of freshwater environment. These biologically rich freshwater ecosystems play a vital role in human life as sources of water, food and recreation. The model provides information on the importance of water, catchment management and global water issue.

This tied in well with our project to raise community awareness of Lime Kiln Bay wetland and changing behavior to reduce detrimental environmental impacts. rain is for drainOur demonstrators wore T shirts designed by committee member Shaun Keays-Byrne with the Logo “DRAINS ARE JUST FOR RAIN”

The Catchments: Water for Living Box is a resource for high schools and focuses on science and geography. The model was developed in partnership Sydney Water.

Catchment model

Sydney Waste Water System

Streamwatch 2014 Oatley bathsSydney Water is proposing a new regulation to better manage our wastewater system in wet weather. Sydney Water is seeking input from a range of people including customers, councils, community and environmental groups, and scientists. Get involved and have your say by signing up to Sydney Water Talk and joining the online discussion. Everyone has a role to play in protecting the environment. Members of Oatley Flora and Fauna have attended the three workshops and made comments which are now being considered for a submission to be made in December to the Environment Protection Authority.

 

Lime Kiln Bay Wetland Awareness Project

Lime Kiln Bay Wetland Awareness Project -  aims to raise awareness in the local Stencilcommunity of the importance of the wetland and to promote increased involvement and behavioural change, thus reducing detrimental environmental impacts. The project also includes drain stencilling, guided walks, surveys and information on the OFF web site.

CLICK HERE FOR LIME KILN WETLAND A3 FLYER

STORM WATER

LKB catchment mapAny substance entering street drains from within the marked catchment boundary line will eventually find its way into the wetland. This catchment covers a sizeable area of about 2 square kilometres (200 hectares) from Forest Road to Ocean Street, Illawarra rail line and across to Mulga Road and Lloyd Street.

This is a dense urban area containing about 4000 homes and up to 10,000 residents.It also includes the shopping centre at Mortdale and other commercial properties.

Because much of the catchment is covered with hard surfaces, e.g., houses, roads, concrete driveways and footpaths, water runs off rather than soaking into the ground. In doing so, it flows quickly carrying pollutants with it. If we stop pollution entering gutters and drains in the first place, we can help keep our waterways clean and healthy. That way, they will provide a better environment for us and for animals and plants.

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What you can do

• wash your car on the grass
• recycle your cans and plastic bottles and bags
• pick up your dog’s droppings
• put cigarette butts and other litter in the bin
• place your grass clippings and other garden waste in the compost or green recycle bin
• keep paints, turps, solvents and oils clear of gutters and drains
• report stormwater pollution to Hurstville City Council

The Office of Environment and Heritage website has some good information on stormwater

Stormwater is pure rainwater plus anything the rain carries along with it. In urban areas, rain that falls on the roof of your house, or collects on paved areas like driveways, roads and footpaths is carried away through a system of pipes that is separate from the sewerage system. Unlike sewage, stormwater is not treated. Click here to see more on  What is urban Stormwater?

Storm Water Pollution the Difference is you

We can help prevent stormwater pollution from ruining our waterways by taking steps to stop detergents, paints, leaves and grass clippings, cigarette butts and other litter from ending up in our gutters and drains.

Sewer overflows

In 2012, due to equipment malfunction raw sewage was released into the wetland. Following an extensive cleanup Sydney Water Corporation rectified  the emergency relief structure and installed monitoring equipment at this ERS and others on the NGRS. Following community consultation, Sydney Water has also modified the ERS to store more sewage in the main to reduce the number of wet weather overflows from this point and into the wetland.  See more at Sewer Overflow section

Water Quality Testing

After the 2012 event, Sydney Water commenced water quality testing in the wetland so they could measure the effect of the changes to the ERS and the consequent reduction in overflows
into Dairy Creek and the wetland.
IMG_7591In addition a group of volunteer citizen scientists have been sampling and testing a number of water quality parameters in the creek and wetland on a bi-monthly basis.
This Streamwatch program is sponsored by the Australian Museum and is part of a state wide plan to monitor water quality in our waterways. Results generally show the Creek waters to be fair.

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Also a River Health Monitoring Program coordinated and funded by the Georges River Combined Councils Committee is undertaken by volunteer citizen scientists who sample for macro-invertebrates (water bugs) in Dairy Creek bi-annually to determine the health of the tributaries and River. Results of this program generally show the historical health rating of Dairy C