Thursday 24 October 2013

Notes on the talk given at the AGM by Bruce Christie of Central West CMA

Bruce Christie kindly attended our recent AGM and gave a talk about water monitoring, touching on a range of topics such as:

  • The government used to have quite an extensive network of gauging stations along rivers and creeks, with data monitors and samples (measuring temperature, EC – which is a reading of salinity, phosphorous and dissolved oxygen. However, owing to government cost-cutting measures, many of these sites are no longer monitored.
  • The Office of Water is now concerned with water quality and issues licences which are now tradeable. Allocation of licences is not always done on a scientific basis, especially years ago, with the result that in some areas there is over-allocation of water. This can be clearly seen in the Macquarie Marshes where now some areas, due to lack of water, are no longer marshes but are turning into terrestrial ecosystems.
  • Bruce explained the issue of harvestable rights – the amount of land you own constrains how much water you can capture (ie harvest) in dams. This water can be used for whatever you like.
  • Piezometers are used to measure the rise and fall of groundwater. Tracking this rise and fall against local rainfall events can give you some idea if the groundwater system being measured is a local system or is linked to a regional system.
  • The CMA does awareness-raising with schools in the region. Bruce visits schools 4-5 times a year and works with years 9 and 10. They will do things like visual monitoring, evaluating the surrounding environment to gain some idea of how this might affect the quality of the water, and then measure temperature, EC, pH and turbidity.
  • Bruce then explained how these parameters are measured, showing us the equipment to be used.
  • Bruce suggested it would be good for members of the association to take some snapshots of a number of springs. Do this by recording the day and recent weather events and then taking a photo, with GPS location, and measuring the simple water quality parameters of temperature, EC, pH and turbidity. Also measure the quantity or flow, if possible.
  • You can register your monitored site on the Water Watch website and enter the results on the website. The entered data is verified by the CMA so any obvious errors such as typos are picked up and any anomalies will be queried. This helps to give the data a bit of credibility.

Bruce left the Association with a water testing kit, which members can borrow and use to check their springs, waterways and dams. If you’d like to borrow the kit, please email the association at:

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