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Urban wetlands transform Melbourne parkland

A $4 million Melbourne Water project will transform vacant paddocks into thriving community spaces in Melbourne’s south-east.

The Grasmere Creek wetlands, at Berwick’s Cardinia Creek Parklands North, will deliver a host of environmental benefits, including better water quality and floodplain connectivity, as well as provide valuable open space for locals to use.

The works will also deliver improved water quality and flood management capacity with removal of nitrogen and sediment from discharge to Westernport Bay. The scheme is expected to remove up to 43.5 tonnes of sediment and 690 kilograms of nitrogen per annum. 

This new wetland is in a highly valued waterway within the broader Cardinia Creek catchment, known for its significant flora and fauna and support habitat for drought refuge species. It will provide refuge pools for the rare and threatened Dwarf Galaxias and habitat to migratory species which have been recorded in the area, including the Great Egret, White-bellied Sea Eagle and Latham’s Snipe. 

High quality vegetation can be found, including rare orchids such as Spurred Helmet-orchid. Additional revegetation with species indigenous to the area will help contribute to healthy waterway strategy performance objectives and provide urban cooling benefits.  

Melbourne Water took three months to construct the wetlands supported by Parks Victoria, who provided the land, and the City of Casey, who are donating 40,000 plants for future community planting day activities.

The project involved realigning the southern reach of Grasmere Creek and the construction of a stormwater treatment wetland on Parks Victoria land.  

Melbourne Water’s general manager of waterways and catchment operations Dr Kirsten Shelly said that on top of the environmental benefits, the project will improve recreation and liveability for the local community.

“As part of the project, a 630-metre section of the southern reach of Grasmere Creek has been realigned to divert stormwater into the new wetlands. This will help to remove up to 80% of sediment, significantly improving the creek’s water quality which, ultimately, flows into Western Port Bay,” she said.

“Around 33,000 cubic metres of soil that was excavated from the site was also reused — rather than transported to landfill — to help construct a new walking path.

“This is a great example of the circular economy using waste as a resource.”

In 2020, Melbourne Water completed two projects under its inaugural Reimagining Your Creek program, Arnolds Creek in Melton and Blind Creek in Boronia. This program aims to restore some of Melbourne’s creeks and waterways into accessible and environmental spaces for communities to access. 

Another project, Tarralla Creek in Croydon, is currently underway, with the utility ready to start works to naturalise a section of Wallan Creek in Hadfield Park.