What is Waterwatch?
Wimmera Community Waterwatch (WCW) started in 1995. Its main purpose is to monitor water quality and provide environmental education to community groups and schools across the catchment. It also aims to increase community awareness, understanding and ownership of local water quality and catchment issues. This is achieved by providing a broad range of activities that encourage schools and the community to become actively involved in monitoring the health of the Wimmera’s rivers, creeks, wetlands, dams, channels and bores.
Wimmera CMA works with a team of local monitors including landholders, farmers, Landcare networks, school and tertiary students, community groups and individuals. Monitors are provided with training, equipment and support to collect water quality data. The type of information that monitors collect includes: water monitoring; sampling aquatic macroinvertebrate and frogs; habitat surveys and testing water quality by measuring salinity, pH, temperature, hardness, phosphorus, turbidity.
This important information provides people and organisations with a current and historical position of the region’s water quality.
During May, Waterwatch focuses on salt in the Wimmera as part of the Victorian Saltwatch program. Saltwatch began in 1987 and is now Australia's longest-running community water monitoring program. Through Saltwatch, students, farmers and the community learn about the effects of salinity on water quality by collecting local water samples and testing them with a salinity meter. The testing information helps create a ‘snapshot’ that builds a picture of salinity across the region.
The Wimmera Community Waterwatch trailer was developed in 2004 in partnership with the Wimmera Mail-Times and local councils. It was designed to provide a ‘hands on’, public and interactive presence for Waterwatch. The trailer travels all around the region to help inform and educate school groups, landholders, farmers, Landcare and the general public about water health issues.
The trailer has an external power generator which enables videos and microscopes to be used and shown outdoors. The trailer is widely used at field days, during National Water Week, at school visits, the Wimmera Kids Conference, regional shows and community events.
The 'Fresh & Salty' salinity resource for schools includes a short animated film and resources for classroom-based activities. 'Fresh & Salty' takes a fresh and innovative approach to teaching students about salinity. Wimmera CMA also has a large fibreglass catchment model of the Wimmera, four interactive stormwater models, catchment identification charts, big picture story books, and a catchment game ‘Creeks and Pipes’.
Calender of events
There are four major state-wide Waterwatch events each year: