Reservoir Frogs – Edgars Creek Waterwatch Group
Waterwatch is a program that turns Darebin community members into citizen scientists who monitor and report on the health of their waterways.
The Waterwatch Program in Darebin is run by the Merri Creek Management Committee (MCMC) in partnership with Darebin City Council. It is a public program that welcomes community volunteers and provides them with training to be able to perform water quality monitoring at one of four creek monitoring sites. These sites cover the Darebin, Merri and Edgars creeks. Monthly water quality data is collected from each site by one of four different Waterwatch groups.
Waterwatch also runs regular community events, such as the Frogs on Wheels Bike Ride, Friends of Edwardes Lake Frog Walk and Talk, Robinson Reserve Planting Day and Merri’s Magical Morning.
The Reservoir Frogs Waterwatch Group currently has three community volunteer members who meet each month at Edgars Creek, next to the Leamington Street Scout Hall in Reservoir. The volunteers use water quality monitoring kits to test the following parameters, which give them an idea of how healthy the creek is:
Water temperature – the plants and animals in the creek have evolved to live within a certain range of temperatures. If the water becomes unusually warm or cool, many of them will die. If temperature change happens over a long period of time, the type of plants and animals living in the creek may change. If water becomes much warmer than usual, the risk harmful nutrient overload is more likely, salinity is likely to get higher and oxygen levels lower (see below for more information).
pH – how acidic or basic water is (pH) affects the health of aquatic plants and animals. Creek water should be fairly neutral (not overly acidic or basic). If pH levels become unusually high or low, some aquatic animals will not develop or breed normally. If water becomes very acidic it can burn the skin of fishes.
Dissolved oxygen levels – fish living in the creek need oxygen levels to remain within a certain range to survive. Too much oxygen in the water can affect their blood flow, whereas too little oxygen in the water can kill large numbers of fish in just a few hours.
Turbidity (murkiness or muddy-ness) – if creek water is too turbid, aquatic plants don’t receive the sunlight they need to grow.
Electrical conductivity – by testing how easily electricity can pass through water, we can tell how much salt is in the water (the water’s salinity). If there is too much salt in the water, fresh-water plants and animals find it hard to survive.
Phosphorus levels – too much of the chemical phosphorus in water can lead to excessive growth of aquatic plants or algal blooms, which can choke waterways and starve them of oxygen. Some algal blooms can also be toxic to humans and other animals
Ammonia levels – too much ammonia is toxic to fish and other aquatic wildlife.
In spring and autumn of each year, the Reservoir Frogs Waterwatch Group also assesses the types and numbers of macroinverterbrates present in the creek. Macroinvertebrates are animals that are big enough to be seen without a microscope and don’t have a spine, such as insects, crabs, snails and worms.
The group also photographs the creek once a year and assesses its habitat value (how well it provides homes for plants and animals).
- Educated and engaged community
- Better understanding of Edgars Creek and other local waterways
- Long-term creek health data available to guide management of Edgars Creek