Gold Coast Waterwatch is a community service initiated and supported by the City of Gold Coast and facilitated by Natura Education. When delivering Waterwatch we engage with early learning centres, primary schools, secondary schools, community groups and community events to educate participants on the importance of healthy waterways and catchments. It is part of Waterwatch Australia, which is a nation-wide program that was launched over twenty years ago in 1993 to increase the community’s awareness of water quality and catchment health issues. The program aims to do this by engaging the community with their local and regional waterways through active participation in water quality monitoring.
As well as working to improve awareness and education, Gold Coast Waterwatch also assists in collecting data on the health of local waterways. This is done by investigating the biological indicators, physical-chemical parameters and habitat qualities of waterways in local catchment areas. The areas tested include rivers, creeks, streams, ponds, dams and other waterways, with the collected data being recorded and monitored. This process provides a sense of community contribution to monitoring, and sense of public ownership of the information collected. In this way the community is becoming directly involved in future management of their Gold Coast catchments.
So let’s take a look at what such a great program can achieve over the course of a year by looking more closely at what Gold Coast Waterwatch was all about from July 2014 to June 2015.
During this time Natura Education were proud to have delivered a very busy and active Waterwatch program to the Gold Coast community. Our educators worked with 27 schools and approximately 2,800 students, where we successfully carried out the monitoring of 21 sites within 6 catchments, throughout the Gold Coast. In this time we taught 53 lessons (over 61 testing days), which were made up of 33 macro-invertebrate investigations, 15 physical-chemical analysis and 5 habitat assessments. GCWW worked in conjunction with 5 community days including the Bonogin Valley Fair, QLD Academy of Health Science (STEM Presentation), Toogoolawa Landcare Day, Gold Coast Science and Tech Fair and the Nature Play Conference, where we were exposed to a further 800 participants. We also conducted 7 presentations on the importance of waterway health at Varsity College, All Saints Anglican School, Benowa State High School and the Upper Coomera Early Learning Centre. Over the year, the Waterwatch program had a total of over 300 face-to-face hours with students and community groups.
But this is not all! We were also very busy in further developing and promoting the Gold Coast Waterwatch program throughout 2014. During this time we created and launched the Gold Coast Waterwatch website, which has made all of the important Waterwatch resources and methods of testing available online to the public. The Gold Coast Waterwatch Facebook page was also launched to help promote the program via social media and keep the community up to date with Waterwatch news and upcoming events.
The Waterwatch program resources were also given a boost with the development and publishing of new macro-invertebrate identification charts. These new charts are designed to help identify water bugs in the field using updated, clear and concise photographs and information. These posters are also available to be purchased by the public via the Gold Coast Waterwatch website, with all profits going back into the Waterwatch program. These charts make the identification process easier and help ensure that the scientific data collected is correct. Additionally, some new physical-chemical water testing equipment was purchased to replace any out dated equipment and ensure that the data physical-chemical collected is accurate. The new testing equipment includes phosphates kits, dissolved oxygen kits, turbidity tubes, pH kits, pH probes, and temperature and salinity probes.
In short it has been a big year for Gold Coast Waterwatch, and the next one is shaping up to be even better with some very exciting new projects simmering away in the wings… stay tuned both here and on the Gold Coast Waterwatch website to keep an eye on what new things are happening!