Annual Achievements Report
The EstuaryWatch and Waterwatch Annual Achievements Report 2017-18 provides a statewide update on the activities of the Victorian citizen science programs, describes how community monitoring programs are used to inform waterway management decisions, while strengthening community engagement and participation in waterways.
Funding for these community citizen science programs is part of the Victorian Government’s $222 million investment over four years to improve the health of waterways and catchments.
Waterwatch case studies
Melbourne Water Waterbug Census.
The Melbourne Water Waterbug Census program has been running since 2014 and has had over 4,000 people involved in events, training and the collection of over 190 data samples. That’s included identifying and counting around 20,000 macroinvertebrates!
By partnering with groups like Merri Creek Management Committee, Councils, Friends groups and Landcare the program has accredited a number of volunteers who can now teach others how to identify macroinvertebrates using ‘Agreed Level Taxonomy’. This methodology, developed by The Waterbug Company, gives citizen scientists a way to identify live animals without a microscope. The data can then be used to estimate the health of their local waterway.
As well as collecting citizen science data, the program has increased awareness in the community about macroinvertebrates and how they are an indicator for healthy waterways. Videos, media articles, teaching resources, social media and filming on Scope further have educated people on the importance of these amazing ‘waterbugs’.
Data collected contributes to Melbourne Water data sets and is also available on the Atlas of Living Australia. In spring 2018, data will also be collected as part of the National Waterbug Blitz and contribute to snapshot reports on waterway health across Australia.
For more information visit https://www.melbournewater.com.au/waterbugcensus.
Macquarie Perch Love Waterbugs
Waterwatch coordinators have used their skills in collection and identification of waterbugs to inform habitat improvement for Macquarie Perch in Hughes Creek.
The endangered Macquarie perch (Macquaria australasica) lives in slow rivers with deep holes and its diet consists of aquatic insects. Waterway managers are re-establishing depth and shelter in the creek and re-introducing large wood (snags) to improve habitat quality. Surveys of waterbugs have been done before and after work to evaluate the success of the works. Efforts to improve habitat for the fish is expected to result in improved waterbug populations as a food source not only for Macquarie perch but for other fish and birds.
Waterbug diversity and abundance have also been used to assess the water quality of rivers in the Goulburn Broken region including Rubicon River at Tumbling Waters, King Parrot Creek at Flowerdale, Acheron River at Tom Park and Yea River at Devlin’s Bridge. These sites are part of the priority stream assessment program delivered by the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority.
Continual learning and training opportunities are provided through Waterwatch. For further information on Goulburn Broken Waterwatch monitoring program, visit http://www.gbwaterwatch.org.au/contact.php
These reports capture stories from the regions and provide examples of how the two programs are informing waterway management and increasing community knowledge and skills on how to monitor their local waterway. Learn more in the Annual Achievements Report.