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Welcoming our new wetlands overlords

By johnboy - 3 February 2012 39

simon corbell at dickson wetlands

Simon Corbell yesterday opened the Dickson wetlands with some fanfair:

Improved water quality, flood protection and an oasis for local flora and fauna are among the benefits of the newly constructed wetland in Dickson, Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development, Simon Corbell, announced at the official opening today.

“The Dickson wetland will provide multiple benefits for the local community and the environment as well as reducing reliance on non-potable water for irrigation purposes,” Mr Corbell said.

“The $10.1 million investment into both the Dickson wetland and Lyneham ponds, will contribute to improving water quality in the Sullivans Creek catchment by reducing nitrogen, phosphorous and suspended solids. They will also work to slow the flow of water in the sub-catchment, which will help protect downstream areas from flooding.”

Mr Corbell said the increase in habitat areas will be provided with locally occurring trees, shrubs, ground covers, grasses and aquatic plants being planted around and in the pond.

“In addition, the Dickson wetland, along with Lyneham ponds, will capture on average 430 mega litres of excess stormwater per year though pump stations at each site to irrigate playing fields,” he said.

But to whom do we owe this nirvana?

Well the Greens’ Shane Rattenbury doesn’t want his party’s role to be forgotten:

Accelerating the program of replacing stormwater drains with urban creek and
wetland systems was part of the Parliamentary Agreement the ALP signed with the Greens in 2008 after plans stalled for seven years, due to lack of funding.

“The Greens are very pleased with the outcome at the Dickson Wetland site, where the native birdlife is flourishing, frogs can be heard each day and many people are using it regularly as a rest and relaxation site,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“This Parliamentary Agreement item was one of the first to be completed after funding was included in the 2009 budget, identifying almost $14m for Lyneham, O’Connor and Dickson Wetland sites.

Which is all very nice, and no doubt the sites will be popular in the future.

But let’s not kid ourselves on a few things.

Firstly stormwater harvesting in an inland city is just me-tooism because the kids in the coastal cities are doing it.

Every drop of storm water we conserve in a drought situation is water we have to let out of our potable water storages to maintain environmental flows in the rivers leading out of the ACT.

(Whereas in a coastal city fresh water is actually lost when stormwater flows into the sea)

Secondly the concrete drain was superb at reducing flood risk by very quickly depositing water into Lake Burley Griffin.

The new system, retaining water in the system for longer is massively increasing flood risk along the creek.

(There may be some issues where they’re building the Molonglo development in which case the wetlands are keeping more floodwater potential in the Inner North in order to make up for bad planning in an unbuilt area).

Inner Northicans can already see that rainfall which used to clear in hours now sees the creek flow for days.

Which can be seen as a win for creating new environments, but not for reducing flood risk.

The environmental benefits and amenity of a nice series of pretty water holes might well be great.

But let’s remember this has come at a cost, particularly in Lyneham where large numbers of mature trees were bulldozed to create a landscaped environment.

[Photo Courtesy of Simon Corbell’s office]

What’s Your opinion?


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Welcoming our new wetlands overlords
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PantsMan 8:56 pm 16 Feb 12

No amount of wetlands will atone for the plastic bag ban.

farnarkler 8:53 pm 16 Feb 12

I hope the Lyneham wetlands gets completed soon. It stinks like an open sewer!!!

fishi 6:16 pm 16 Feb 12

justin heywood said :

fishi said :

For the uneducated, including the original poster, look up ecologically sustainable developemnt (ESD), and water sensitive urban design (WSUD) and urban design landscape architecture in general. The concrete drains built in the 1960, are the reason for flooding, also the reason the lakes in canberra have that lovely green shit all over them. Water retention ponds, wetlands and plantings return creeks and rivers to their natural flow rates, increase bidiversity and basically do lots of nice things to make urban environments better and more pleasant for you to live in.

But i guess it doesnt matter if having a slap at the pokies and drinking piss is your main sorce of enjoyment.

Fishi, don’t believe everything they teach you in first year Uni. It’s a tad simplistic to say that drains are the cause of urban flooding. (let’s fill them in and see how we go shall we?)

In regard to the ‘lovely green shit’ on the lake, the explorer Sturt found algal blooms on the Darling in 1830, a considerable time before anyone had ever built a drain or studied “Ecologically Sustainable Development’. Incidentally, if the Canberra’s urban drains were really the cause, the water quality would improve further upstrem of the Molonglo, which it does not.

I’m not saying that wetlands are a bad thing, but I am saying that environmental issues are generally more complex than you or The Greens appear to think they are.

I finished my masters along time ago and have been in the industry for over 10 years, algal blooms in the molonglo are from excess nitrogen mainly flushed in from farms etc. If you dont know what your talking about mate dont pretend you do. Concrete floodways were designed by engineers a long time ago. They are being ripped up and replaced all over the world. Obviously the lake, rivers etc wont be cleaned up by just the removal of these, that’s why a whole approach is required, farmers, golf courses dont ever fertilize, less urban run off and the natural cleaning provided by aquatic microorganisms and plants. Wetlands are a small part of this.

dtc 9:27 am 07 Feb 12

cranky said :

OK. I’ll bite. Individual householders are required to isolate their pools and ponds by law, to reduce to a minimum the potential for drownings.

Yet this does not apply to Govco. Our masters dictate restrictions on politically incorrect pursuits, in the name of safety, but allow this super pool, with slippery banks, attractive (Interesting, chaseable,) wildlife, with no apparent effort to reduce potential disaster.

I’ll lay money on grief being caused by this development.

And I do not own a pool. Just totally peed off with the hypocracy.

Or you could do an analysis of the number of children who drown in backyard pools (particularly pre fence days, but even now) vs the number of children who have drowned in inland lakes (excluding those drowning during watersports, since that isnt prevented by fencing etc).

Then you may find that pools are far more dangerous and justify fencing. Whereas inland lakes are not, so do not justify fencing.

(actually, here are the stats from the Royal Life Saving Society: children under 4 yr drowning death 5 yr average (to 2011): pools 16 per year; lake dams and lagoons: 5 per year; river/creek/stream: 3 per year. Pools being 43% of all deaths. This, of course, is after the pool fencing laws were introduced. Child drownings have reduced by over 60% since then, despite pool numbers increasing by 70%. The non pool drownings may also include children falling overboard)

Sounds more like common sense than hypocrisy. (btw, ‘hypocracy’ would presumably mean ‘ruled by the below’, which is an interesting concept)

Thumper 8:24 am 07 Feb 12

Grrrr said :

cranky said :

this super pool, with slippery banks {blah blah}

Look at the photo accompanying this article. The banks aren’t slippery and they specifically have thick grasses at the bottom of them.

How dare the government apply a different standard to urban waterways than backyard pools, even though toddlers will only be near them when their parents have taken them there, and they will struggle to even get within spitting distance of the water courtesy of the flora?

http://www.environment.act.gov.au/water/constructed_wetlands – Check out the photo of small children NOT drowning at the wetlands that haven’t even had the planting finished!

Yeah, but what about the crocodiles?

Grrrr 11:38 pm 06 Feb 12

cranky said :

this super pool, with slippery banks {blah blah}

Look at the photo accompanying this article. The banks aren’t slippery and they specifically have thick grasses at the bottom of them.

How dare the government apply a different standard to urban waterways than backyard pools, even though toddlers will only be near them when their parents have taken them there, and they will struggle to even get within spitting distance of the water courtesy of the flora?

http://www.environment.act.gov.au/water/constructed_wetlands – Check out the photo of small children NOT drowning at the wetlands that haven’t even had the planting finished!

Thumper 10:24 pm 06 Feb 12

cranky said :

Grrrr said :

cranky said :

Has any thought been given to the drowning risks created, particularly from unsupervised children and inebriated adults?

Let’s get serious about the relative dangers in all this.

Whilst I’d be happy to call it natural selection, it looks to me that all due thought has been given to the drowning risks.

Yes, let’s get realistic about the dangers here – and give a big thumbs up for the wetlands design, banning the inane burning of green waste, anti-smoking measures et. al.

OK. I’ll bite. Individual householders are required to isolate their pools and ponds by law, to reduce to a minimum the potential for drownings.

Yet this does not apply to Govco. Our masters dictate restrictions on politically incorrect pursuits, in the name of safety, but allow this super pool, with slippery banks, attractive (Interesting, chaseable,) wildlife, with no apparent effort to reduce potential disaster.

I’ll lay money on grief being caused by this development.

And I do not own a pool. Just totally peed off with the hypocracy.

I can agree with that.

justin heywood 10:10 pm 06 Feb 12

fishi said :

For the uneducated, including the original poster, look up ecologically sustainable developemnt (ESD), and water sensitive urban design (WSUD) and urban design landscape architecture in general. The concrete drains built in the 1960, are the reason for flooding, also the reason the lakes in canberra have that lovely green shit all over them. Water retention ponds, wetlands and plantings return creeks and rivers to their natural flow rates, increase bidiversity and basically do lots of nice things to make urban environments better and more pleasant for you to live in.

But i guess it doesnt matter if having a slap at the pokies and drinking piss is your main sorce of enjoyment.

Fishi, don’t believe everything they teach you in first year Uni. It’s a tad simplistic to say that drains are the cause of urban flooding. (let’s fill them in and see how we go shall we?)

In regard to the ‘lovely green shit’ on the lake, the explorer Sturt found algal blooms on the Darling in 1830, a considerable time before anyone had ever built a drain or studied “Ecologically Sustainable Development’. Incidentally, if the Canberra’s urban drains were really the cause, the water quality would improve further upstrem of the Molonglo, which it does not.

I’m not saying that wetlands are a bad thing, but I am saying that environmental issues are generally more complex than you or The Greens appear to think they are.

cranky 9:12 pm 06 Feb 12

Grrrr said :

cranky said :

Has any thought been given to the drowning risks created, particularly from unsupervised children and inebriated adults?

Let’s get serious about the relative dangers in all this.

Whilst I’d be happy to call it natural selection, it looks to me that all due thought has been given to the drowning risks.

Yes, let’s get realistic about the dangers here – and give a big thumbs up for the wetlands design, banning the inane burning of green waste, anti-smoking measures et. al.

OK. I’ll bite. Individual householders are required to isolate their pools and ponds by law, to reduce to a minimum the potential for drownings.

Yet this does not apply to Govco. Our masters dictate restrictions on politically incorrect pursuits, in the name of safety, but allow this super pool, with slippery banks, attractive (Interesting, chaseable,) wildlife, with no apparent effort to reduce potential disaster.

I’ll lay money on grief being caused by this development.

And I do not own a pool. Just totally peed off with the hypocracy.

Bramina 8:16 pm 06 Feb 12

I doubt it would make much difference to flooding…

The way that flooding works is that the river banks (or drain banks) and obstacles exert friction on the water. This causes water to bank up. Eventually it banks up so much that at some point upstream, the river level breaks the banks.

I can’t see how these wetlands are that much of an obstacle for water that they would cause upstream flooding.

Nor can I see how they would absorb enough water or remove enough friction to prevent upstream flooding.

Also, JB was right that water saving is just me tooism. Overflow from our storm water and from Cotter both flow into the Murrumbidgie, it makes little difference which one we take our water from.

Grrrr 7:35 pm 06 Feb 12

cranky said :

Has any thought been given to the drowning risks created, particularly from unsupervised children and inebriated adults?

Let’s get serious about the relative dangers in all this.

Whilst I’d be happy to call it natural selection, it looks to me that all due thought has been given to the drowning risks.

Yes, let’s get realistic about the dangers here – and give a big thumbs up for the wetlands design, banning the inane burning of green waste, anti-smoking measures et. al.

I really don’t understand how anyone could think the design poses a flood risk. Both areas allow the same level of flow as before.

yimbo 2:58 pm 06 Feb 12

I imagine that in the event of a flood the stormwater carriage system will be used to expedite the water as was the case previously. Therefore I suspect this has improved Canberra’s ability to mitigate flood risks. I think this is a wonderful site for Canberra. Hopefully wildlife are attracted to it becasue the Jerrabomberra wetlands are in danger of being encroached upon by the heinous Kingston foreshore development.
Thank you ACT Greens!

fishi 12:46 am 06 Feb 12

For the uneducated, including the original poster, look up ecologically sustainable developemnt (ESD), and water sensitive urban design (WSUD) and urban design landscape architecture in general. The concrete drains built in the 1960, are the reason for flooding, also the reason the lakes in canberra have that lovely green shit all over them. Water retention ponds, wetlands and plantings return creeks and rivers to their natural flow rates, increase bidiversity and basically do lots of nice things to make urban environments better and more pleasant for you to live in.

But i guess it doesnt matter if having a slap at the pokies and drinking piss is your main sorce of enjoyment.

Thumper 4:32 pm 05 Feb 12

cranky said :

Our political masters have decreed that many common pursuits must be curtailed as a result of their potential for causing injury and damage.

Neighborhood parks have been stripped of their swings and roundabouts, smokers have been legislated out of existence, we (in the ACT) are not considered competent to turn right at an intersection without a green arrow, and burning off the garden waste is totally illegal.

Yet a body of water, designed to be as attractive as possible, is created in a high population, high traffic area. Has any thought been given to the drowning risks created, particularly from unsupervised children and inebriated adults?

Let’s get serious about the relative dangers in all this.

Here’s a novel idea.

Parents could teach their children that large bodies of water can be dangerous.

Oh, and maybe they could teach them to swim.

I know, ridiculous idea. What was I ever thinking of…

I-filed 12:18 pm 05 Feb 12

I guess these artificial wetlands will be artificially filled with chlorinated tap water during the next big drought. Otherwise the neighbourhood kids will be witness to an environmental lesson in certain death for tadpoles & frogs when the water dries up.

niknak 12:08 pm 05 Feb 12

Love the Dickson wetlands and, as the Dickson wetlands remain a gazetted dogs-off-leash zone, so does the furry four-pawed member of our family.

Mr Evil 11:33 am 05 Feb 12

Great, so now that we’ve had our big fire, ACT Labor and the Greens think it’s time for a big flood?

EvanJames 9:49 am 05 Feb 12

Sandman said :

Wonder if they’ve done any feasibility on continuing dual carriageway from Cowper street through to the Antill roundabout? That whole section of Majura will be lined with those bloody apartments soon anyway. Might as well put in a decent road for the increased population.

Don’t be silly, Increased population only brings wonderful things, not congestion and greater expense.

And I see that there are now calls to fence the pond, for The Children.

housebound 8:28 am 05 Feb 12

He doesn’t have a lot of friends there to support his cause and give a good photo op, does he?

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