Council joins fight to protect vulnerable platypus

Whittlesea City Council is doing its part in the nation-wide fight to save the iconic platypus from becoming an endangered species.

A new project, ‘Water Quality Monitoring in Merri Creek’, will help ensure that the creek continues to be a healthy and habitable environment for aquatic animals including the platypus.

The project is a partnership between the City of Whittlesea, RMIT and Merri Creek Management Committee and is part of Council’s new Whittlesea Water For All water strategy, which was formally endorsed at the December Council Meeting.

The Merri Creek project follows the Victorian government announcement of $300,000 to restore key platypus habitat sites and create a long-term action plan. The State has also formally listed the platypus population in Victoria as ‘vulnerable’.

The ‘Water Quality Monitoring in Merri Creek’ project involves a network of sensors to monitor water turbidity levels – how clear or turbid the water is – in order to protect waterway and animal health.

“The network of sensors in the Merri Creek will allow us to see the effects of runoff into the creek, which is particularly important for the Whittlesea municipality with our growth areas and high level of development,” Council’s Stormwater Harvesting Coordinator Edmond Lascaris said.

“This will assist developers to better understand the issue of keeping waterways healthy and enable them to roll out more careful management of construction to minimise runoff into the creek. It will help us identify the extent of these kinds of issues and provide real time reporting.

“The Merri Creek sub-catchment includes some beautiful spots that are well-loved and enjoyed by many residents. The creek supports some of northern Melbourne’s largest, most diverse native vegetation.”

Beyond its platypus population, the creek is home to other vulnerable species including the Growling Grass Frog and the Golden Sun Moth.

‘Water Quality Monitoring in Merri Creek’ is one of several collaborative projects included in Council’s new water management strategy, Whittlesea Water For All, which was endorsed in December last year.

The strategy was informed by extensive consultation with experts, agencies, businesses and community organisations. It aims to see Council become a leader in the management of water – including stormwater, potable water, wastewater, rainwater and local waterways – by 2030.

Water security, which became a national priority when the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) signed the National Water Initiative in 2004, is just one of several issues addressed by the strategy. Others include the growing risks of flood and drought, and the health of waterways including Edgars Creek, Darebin Creek, Merri Creek and the Plenty River.

Chair Administrator Ms Lydia Wilson said Council is re-considering its use of water to prepare for wiser, more efficient management of this precious resource.

“The City of Whittlesea is uniquely positioned in relation to water management,” Ms Wilson said.

“Our high-growth areas pose many opportunities to adopt innovative and forward-thinking water management at crucial stages of development.

“Every year we have more homes and businesses being built. At the same time, science shows that our climate is becoming hotter and drier, and that this will have an impact on the availability of water.

“There’s also risks of increased waterway pollution and flooding events.

“This Strategy outlines the important step that Council will be undertaking around water management for now and in the future.”

View the Whittlesea Water For All strategy document.

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