ECU and the State Government are teaming up to monitor Perth’s urban wetlands in response to groundwater use and climate change.
The university was appointed through a competitive process managed by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation to conduct wetland vegetation and macroinvertebrate and water quality studies on the Gnangara Mound in 2018.
The department has used the expertise of ECU and other Perth institutions for more than 20 years to help respond to declining groundwater levels on the Gnangara Mound.
The Gnangara groundwater system is Perth’s largest and most reliable fresh water resource and provides almost half of metropolitan Perth’s water supply.
The system also supports Perth’s natural lakes and wetlands, which are some of the most biologically diverse and ecologically important areas on the Swan Coastal Plain.
Surface waters in many of the wetlands supported by the Gnangara groundwater system have declined over the last 30 years and ongoing assessment helps target management responses.
Responses to declining water levels so far include reducing the amount of groundwater taken for public water supply and limiting it from sensitive areas that affect wetlands and locating groundwater replenishment sites.
Information from the ecological monitoring is an important component of the department’s reporting to the Environmental Protection Authority on the status of key groundwater dependent ecosystems.
Water Minister Dave Kelly said it was important to recognise the scientists and natural resource management officers that collect the data.
“Since this assessment work started over two decades ago, climate change has reduced the average winter rainfall by around 25 per cent of the long-term average over that time,” he said.
“For this reason, we have given the green light for further groundwater replenishment to support the use of this system for public water supply and we are working with water users to be more water efficient.”
Wanneroo MLA Sabine Winton said she was thrilled the government was placing “such an emphasis on continuing the important work of scientific monitoring of our local lake systems”.
“Our understanding of the changing conditions and health of the wetlands in the northern corridor is very important,” she said.
“Lake Nowergup to the north of Wanneroo is a perfect example of how important this scientific work has been for our continued understanding of the changing conditions and health of this important wetland.
“Lake Nowergup is the deepest permanent lake in the metropolitan area and has a high diversity of birds with over 56 species recorded.”