Future directions - By Blue Mountains City Council
Blue Mountains City Council’s commitment to healthy waterways has been recognised by a State environment award and exciting progress in connecting the local community to their creeks and waterways.
Council was highly commended for its Leura Falls catchment improvement project in the ‘Natural Environment Protection & Enhancement: On-Ground Works’ category at the 2016 NSW Local Government Excellence in the Environment Awards. In partnership with Water NSW, Council constructed stormwater quality treatment systems at key locations within the Leura Falls catchment to protect Sydney’s drinking water supply and World Heritage Area national park.
These systems incorporated primary, secondary and tertiary treatments, including gross pollutant traps, stilling ponds, rain-gardens, wetland cells, rock-lined channels and soft-engineered creek-line stabilisation measures. Combined, the treatments will improve water quality and enhance ecosystem services.
The installation of a Stormwater Quality Improvement Device (SQID) at Leura Falls Creek, near a local school, also led to an inspirational education project. Students from Katoomba Public School adopted the SQID and created the SQUID Squad, as part of the project that revealed how stormwater drains connect directly to waterways.
“The students learnt how everything that goes into roof gutters and streets ends up in our creeks,” Mayor, Cr Mark Greenhill said. ”They surveyed litter (by the bagful) being captured by the SQID, tested water quality in the creek, and learnt how their creek is under pressure, from the megalitres of stormwater runoff (including pollution, litter and sediment) it receives from Katoomba township.”
With their newfound creek connection, the kids are bristling with enthusiasm and bursting with ideas about how to help protect their creek.
Meanwhile, another long-term restoration program involving Council and the local community is bringing Glenbrook Lagoon back to life. A new network of stormwater pollution traps and filtration basins has been installed.
The basins, which are located at three points around the Lagoon, are designed to collect stormwater, capture rubbish and sediment, and filter pollutants before slowly releasing cleaner water to the lagoon. They form part of a series of linked stormwater treatments that start with Gross Pollutant Traps at the inlets, followed by biofilters made from layers of sand, gravel and plants, and a small wetland (in the eastern basin) to further improve water quality and provide habitat for wildlife such as turtles and frogs.
“Local residents nearby have expressed how happy they are with what we have created,” the Mayor said. “It is very satisfying to have all the basins in place now and the prospect of further improving water quality in the lagoon.”
Leura Falls Creek and Glenbrook Lagoon are among more than 40 waterways regularly tested by Council. The most recent Blue Mountains Waterways Health Report – a report card that aims to make the results of Council’s Water Quality Monitoring Program accessible to the local community – showed that 53 per cent of the City’s waterways are in good condition or better.
To protect waterways and improve water quality, Council is working closely with 500 dedicated volunteers at 130 sites across the city.