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Waterwatch in the Ginninderra Catchment


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What is Waterwatch?

Waterwatch is a community water quality monitoring program that encourages all Australians to become involved and active in the protection and management of their waterways and catchments. Waterwatch engages and supports local community groups, residents, schools and landowners to regularly monitor the water quality of local creeks, wetlands, lakes, rivers and drainage lines.

Why Monitor Water Quality?
Healthy catchments produce healthy ecosystems with happy fish, frogs, birds, plants, macro-invertebrates and people. Waterwatch aims to create awareness of water quality and catchment management issues by involving all members of the community and by forming partnerships with water and resource management authorities, business and industry.

Waterwatch Monitoring. Photo: John P. Baker   Testing Water Temperature        


Making a Difference!
Water quality information collected throughout a catchment provides a picture of the health of our waterways. Waterwatch groups have initiated many positive, community based conservation activities such as creek restoration, willow removal, removing litter from waterways, eradicating weeds, development of habitats, and reducing the use of pesticides and other pollutants. Many Waterwatch participants are also associated with various other ACT environmental groups who undertake these activities. It’s rewarding, fun and you can make some great friends.

Through our Catchment Health Indicator (CHI) Program, Waterwatch monitoring activities are linked with Landcare projects to:

  • To recognise significant pollution events
  • Monitor and evaluate the impact of projects undertaken by the GCG and its members
  • Identify degraded areas in the Ginninderra Catchment
  • Identify causes of long-term degradation in the Ginninderra Catchment.

Become a Waterwatcher!
You can contribute to Waterwatch activities through a number of programs, including monthly monitoring or biannual bug snapshots. From time to time we also require volunteer assistance to do data entry, data analysis or other research or administrative tasks. We also encourage participation from school and community groups for either one-off activities or long-term projects. For more information about becoming a Waterwatch volunteer, please Contact us. For more information for school groups, For Teachers.

To become a member of the Ginninderra Catchment Group, just download the GCG Membership Application Form (348 kb), fill in the details and fax or post it to the Welcome to the Ginninderra Catchment Group website!

Monthly Waterwatch testing
This regular monitoring has been running since 1999, with Waterwatchers measuring basic physical and chemical parameters at a specified site on the 3rd Sunday of every month. Participants measure:

  • Air Temperature
  • Water Temperature
  • pH
  • Electrical Conductivity
  • Turbidity
  • Dissolved Oxygen and
  • Phosphates
  • Waterwatchers also take observations about the water flow, level of algae growth, weather conditions and any rubbish at the site.

This monitoring program forms the basis of the data we collect for the Catchment Health Indicator Program. Its main aim is to provide baseline data to indicate the “normal” water quality of Ginninderra Creek. As such, it is important that data is collected for these sites every month. We suggest that potential participants have a go at CAMPFIRE monitoring (see below) before committing to the regular Waterwatch monitoring. To increase safety, we also encourage participants to team up with a friend, neighbor or relative to do the regular monitoring. Our Waterwatch Volunteer Role Description (240 kb) provides details about your roles and responsibilities as a monthly Waterwatch volunteer. The monthly Waterwatch results are summarised in a monthly newsletter that can be downloaded as a PDF file.

The Waterwatch Coordinator provides training, equipment maintenance, feedback about the water quality results and other support.

Macro-invertebrate (Bug) Snapshots
In spring and autumn, we assess the biological health of the creek by sampling macro-invertebrates or water bugs. There are many different types of water bugs and some are more sensitive to pollution and environmental change than others. The presence or absence of particular bugs in a waterway tells us a lot about the health of the catchment.
When water becomes polluted or disturbed, sensitive water bugs like stoneflies, mayflies and water mites may die. Flatworms, leeches and bloodworms are more tolerant to pollution and changes in habitat and will often survive. So water bugs are a little like a canary in a coalmine, they tell us about problems long before me might pick them up in other ways.
These snapshots are done with the help of local Landcare and school groups. This is a really fun activity that is great for all ages and levels of experience.
All catchment group members and interested members of the public are invited to come along to these events, and are notified as they are organised each spring and autumn.

Looking for Water Bugs. Photo: B. Askham

You can find out more about our results and various resources here:

Waterwatch Online Data
Waterwatch Events

Or find out about our The Waterwatch Education Program.

This project is jointly funded by the ACT and Australian Governments.