Dedicated river health studies and river action plans have now been completed for the Hotham and Williams Rivers in our upper catchment. PHCC is moving forward to seek funding and plan for on-ground actions.
Now that the Hotham-Williams River Action Plan (RAP) (Urbaqua 2020) and River Health Assessment (Wetlands Research and Management 2020) milestones have been reached, they provide a great snapshot of the health and condition of the Rivers and sub-catchments. They also contain a detailed list of recommendations for on-ground activities to restore habitat and ecological function of the Rivers and their tributaries at both site and sub-catchment levels. The yardstick is the gorgeously vegetated foreshore seen in the photo, taken near the Boddington town site.
Eight priority sites provided the basis of the field work during the data gathering stage of the studies. The condition of the channels varied from degraded and weed infested to eroded, with the majority of reaches assessed as erosion-prone with the soil exposed. All sites recorded salinities higher than Australia and New Zealand Guidelines (2018) attributed to a long history of vegetation clearing resulting in rising groundwater levels. Salinisation is a major factor influencing the species richness of aquatic biota, and this was apparent at all of the sites included in the River Health Assessment.
PHCC’s Hotham-Williams office is now cracking on with development of on-ground projects for the eight priority sites that will implement the recommendations of the RAP. We will be working again with Urbaqua in the development of detailed site restoration plans in consultation with the local Shires and in time the broader community. If we are successful in obtaining funding for implementation, the latter half of 2021 will hopefully see the first actions on the ground.
This project is supported by Peel-Harvey Catchment Council through funding from Newmont Australia and the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation.