NW Study Tour
NW Study Tour

Building Collaboration and Partnerships to Manage Estuaries

Thursday 29 August 2019 | Perth CBD

The WA Branch of the Australian Water Association hosted a Share and Connect event at The Shoe in Yagan Square on Thursday 29 August, in partnership with the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation’s (DWER) Regional Estuaries Initiative. Fifty four (54) people attended to listen to four speakers on the work being carried out by the program, as well as to socialise and catch up with other water industry colleagues. 

Malcolm Robb, Manager of Aquatic Science at DWER, explained the partnership and collaborative approach of the program, which oversees the management of six regional estuaries: Peel-Harvey, Wilson, Vasse-Wonnerup, Leschenault, Hardy Inlet and Oyster Bay. Working together with scientists, farmers, local governments, catchment groups, industry and other government agencies, the initiative develops strategies to build regional capability, sustainable agriculture, improved water movement in the landscape, innovative remediation and science-based management. A few of the projects under the initiative include working to improve agricultural fertiliser practices, developing a dairy industry Code of Practice, stock exclusion and revegetation to improve water quality in the landscape, soil amendments and clay products to bind nutrients, water sensitive design in urban stormwater management, and water quality monitoring and modelling. 

Joanna Wren from the Lower Blackwood Landcare District Committee spoke about how partnerships and community engagement can achieve good outcomes for a local catchment. The Committee works with farmers, the local Shires, government agencies and industry groups to build a sustainable agricultural community for economic, social and environmental benefit. This work includes soil testing, pest management (feral pigs are a big problem), information workshops, revegetation programs and fencing. The Committee, under the Regional Estuaries Initiative, also led the development of the Scott River Action Plan and the Lower Blackwood Values Study. 

Svenja Tulipani, from the Aquatic Science branch at DWER, spoke about the scientific investigations DWER is conducting on phosphorus-binding clays to reduce algal blooms in estuaries. Fields trials in drains in the Peel-Harvey and the Lower Vasse have demonstrated that adding hydrotalcite clay to waterways removes phosphorus from the water to below target levels. Soil amendments such as Iron Man Gypsum can improve nutrient retention in soils and drains to reduce leaching of nutrients into waterways. 

Bronte Grant, an Environmental Officer at DWER, has been working closely with Noongar Elders in the Peel-Harvey estuary (Bindjareb Djilba) to learn about the Bindjareb Noongar perspective on the estuary to ensure that this is built into management plans. Bronte shared the DWER’s approach to meaningful engagement with Traditional Owners, which has delivered the Bindjareb Gabi Wonga (Bindjareb Water Story) for Bindjareb Noongar people. Bindjareb Gabi Wonga communicates the Bindjareb Noongar vision, management goals and priority actions for the estuary. Bronte explained the importance of preserving traditional sites for food gathering and protecting & raising awareness of cultural knowledge and special places. She showed how the Aboriginal cultural knowledge of the estuary is interwoven with stories, artwork, symbolism and icons. A key message from Bronte’s talk was that Aboriginal engagement should allow time to build relationships and trust, to listen and learn and to walk on country. 

The event highlighted the value of working together in partnership with the community, industry, government and Aboriginal custodians in managing our estuaries and catchments, to develop sustainable solutions for the environment, business and the community. 

We would like to thank members of our event working group: Peter Spencer, Dr Ursula Kretzer, Don Crawford and Tara Zirakbash. 

Our events would not be successful without our program partners: thank you to the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation and Regional Estuaries Initiative.
This report was written by Dr Ursula Kretzer. If you have any queries regarding the event or wrap up report please contact Kyllie Whitehead, WA Branch Manager, email wabranch@awa.asn.au or tel 0448 146 222.

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