Amy Denshire published Want to join in The Count? Bellingen Riverwatch tests for waterbugs this September in Stories 2021-07-20 09:19:12 +1000
Last month 30 Bellingen Riverwatch (BR) volunteers and partners gathered to examine and identify the tiny creatures that live in our waterways. Why? Because the waterbugs found in our rivers are a direct indicator of environmental impact - if they change over time, then some difference in the environment has caused that change.Read more
Since 1992, OzGREEN has travelled to India more than 20 times
We have involved in a range of projects including:
- Providing training and water quality testing equipment to the Sankat Mochan Foundation to establish the Swatcha Ganga Research Laboratory
- Filming the Swatcha Ganga video (winner of United Nations Media Peace Prize) 1994
- Establishing Friends of the Ganges Australia in 1994
- Participating in a 60 Minutes (Australia) film story about Swatcha Ganga Campaign
- Establishing the Swatcha Ganga Environmental Education Centre at Tulsi Ghat 1999.
- Designing and raising funds for mini-tube wells.
- Installing numerous mini tube wells in a number of villages to provide clean drinking water benefiting over 10,000 people.
- Delivering youth action river programs involving hundreds of Benares school children
- Speaking about the Sankat Mochan Fountation at a TEDX talk in California
- Engaging over 4,000 youth in other environmental leadership programs since 2002
- Training 50 YOUth LEADing the World Facilitators in Varanasi
- Upgrading the Swatcha Ganga Research Laboratory in 2018
- Helping to establish a new Mothers for Mother group to engage women in the campaign for Clean Ganga
The Sankat Mochan Foundation and OzGREEN seek to protect the Ganges River in India by reducing pollution
The Ganges River is a significant religious and cultural site that is being heavily polluted by the dumping of untreated domestic sewage and industrial contaminants. This causes health hazards for over 400 million people who directly and indirectly use river water in their daily lives.
OzGREEN has partnered with the Sankat Mochan Foundation (SMF) in Varanasi, India since 1992 when OzGREEN founders Sue and Colin Lennox first travelled to India for the River Ganges Teacher Forum. Sue and Colin provided the SMF with water testing equipment and trained 40 local volunteers to monitor the quality of the water. Following this initial visit, OzGREEN became involved in the Clean Ganges Campaign and the establishment of the Swatcha Ganga Research Laboratory.
The SMF’s research laboratory and environmental education centre are located on the banks of River Ganga at Tulsi Ghat. Local activities include:
- Mobilising public attention about river pollution,
- Regular monitoring of river water quality,
- Environmental education and leadership programs for youth and community,
- Safe drinking water programs,
- Removing solid waste from River Ganga water along the ghats,
- Advocating for effective sewage treatment systems to solve the problem
The SMF’s remarkable achievements are recognised locally, nationally and globally, including representation on key advisory groups such as the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA). SMF Founder-President Prof VB Mishra was recipient of the prestigious UN Global 500 Award and acclaimed by Time Magazine as a “Hero of the Planet”.
- Upgrade the Swatcha Ganga Research Laboratory (completed)
- Upgrade Swatcha Ganga Environmental Education Centre
- Install eco-sanitation systems in villages affected by pollution from sewage treatment plant in Chiraigoan Block
- Community education to facilitate informed active community participation, including targeted programs for women and youth
- Advocate for effective solutions and bring Government and civil society together to work for the best possible outcomes
- Bellinger-Kalang Rivers Ecohealth Project, Assessment of River Condition 2009-2010 (PDF 2.89MB)
- The condition of freshwater fish assemblages in the Bellinger Catchment (PDF 1.36MB)
- EcoHealth Questions & Answers (PDF 27KB)
- Score Card Calculations (PDF 96KB)
- Bellinger River Health Plan (PDF 3.23 MB)
- Kalang River Health Plan (PDF 3.64 MB)
Box & Whisker Plots
(with outliers removed)
The graphs below show the Dissolved Oxygen and Available Phosphates data across the Bellinger and Kalang catchments July 2017 to June 2020. We update these graphs every 12 months.
Bellingen Riverwatch data results supports the findings from the Bellinger and Kalang River Eco Health Report Card (2011) and the Bellinger River Health Plan (2010) and tells us that there are elevated nutrient levels in the river, particularly phosphate, and low Dissolved Oxygen levels. Phosphorus is a naturally occurring nutrient that originates from plant and animal matter, and is applied as fertilizer to increase plant growth in agriculture. Dissolved oxygen is a measure of the availability of oxygen to aquatic life. The amount of oxygen in the water regulates the distribution, activity, movement, and behavior of all aquatic animals.
From Bellingen Riverwatch data to date, we can see elevated Available Phosphate levels presenting in the Upper Bellinger River, Upper Kalang River, Upper Never Never River and Rosewood River. Low Dissolved Oxygen levels are presenting at sites in the Upper Bellinger River, on the Rosewood River and Spicketts Creek, and at all of our testing sites on the Kalang River and Never Never River. In the Bellinger and Kalang River Eco Health Report Card (2011), the Bellinger River received a B- mark, and the Kalang River received a C+ mark.
Phosphates are the essential plant and animal nutrient that occurs naturally in very low levels in Australian soils. The ANZECC Water Quality Trigger Values for Available Phosphates for moderately disturbed ecosystems for Lowland Rivers is 0.02mg/L.
Frequent occurrence of Available Phosphate results above 0.02mg/L could be harmful to aquatic ecosystems and increases the likelihood of impacts on waterways such as an abundance of algae and aquatic weeds which out-compete native plants; waterways choked with vegetation; increased biochemical oxygen demand; reduced dissolved oxygen; reduced plant and animal diversity; blue-green algal blooms; and eutrophication.
Possible causes of results outside these values include sewage, sediments erosion, faeces from feedlots, dairies and pets, phosphate-based detergents, decaying plant material, fertilisers and industrial waste and natural geological sources.
Scientists from the NSW Department of Planning, Industry & Environment (DPIE) are carrying out a comprehensive bi-annual water quality and macro-invertebrate surveys which will help identify the causes of elevated phosphate and nitrate levels.
The ANZECC Water Quality Values for Dissolved Oxygen for moderately disturbed ecosystems for Lowland Rivers (less than 150m elevation) is between 85% and 110% saturation.
Results outside the guidelines could be harmful to ecosystems. Dissolved Oxygen levels below 85% is a threat to aquatic life and the macroinvertebrates that our turtles love to eat. Potential impacts outside ANZECC trigger values include lack of oxygen to support aquatic plant and animal life and fish kills. Monitoring Dissolved Oxygen levels is very important as the Bellingen River Snapping Turtle (BRST) is able to supplement its oxygen uptake through cloacal (bum) breathing, reducing its need to come to the water surface to breathe.
Possible causes of results outside these values include stagnant water, organic waste such as sewage, fertiliser run-off and plant material in the waterway. Micro-organisms use the oxygen as they break down the organic matter.
How to read our Historical Data Graphs
Box and Whisker Plot
We have used a box and whisker plot to represent the complete data set from July 2017 to present. This plot style is commonly used to show key parameters regarding data sets. The maximum and minimum are represented via the whiskers and the box is showing average data and the median.
Average To Date Data
We now highlight on our graphs and maps (red dots) the sites where their to-date average (mean) does not meet the guidelines of a healthy river.
To improve legibility of our data, we have removed outliers. Outliers have been removed by determining the midpoint in the upper and lower quartiles, to define the upper and lower bounds of the data. Data outside these bounds has been removed to create the graphs below.Available Phosphates Coloured Bands
To aid interpretation of the Available Phosphates results, we have scored the parameters against Water Quality Guidelines to indicate how far the results lie outside of the guidelines:
- Excellent = below 0.02mg/L
- Very Good = between 0.02-0.25 mg/L
- Fair = between 0.025-0.03 mg/L
- Poor = between 0.03-0.035 mg/L
- Very poor = above 0.035 mg/L