Still Creek Landcare: Can our Kids Still Paddle Safely in our Local Creeks?

By Chris Noon

Most of the time yes, but not after heavy rain, when pollutants and rubbish get washed in.

This conclusion is based on our routine water testing over a decade at three creek sites in the Still Creek Catchment that runs from around Fagan Park to Crosslands.

The pollutants we find come from poor waste water management, livestock and other animal waste, detergents with phosphates, over-use of fertilizers all compounded by land clearing or mowing to the creek lines. This clearing and mowing stops the filtering that naturally cleans waters before they enter creeks. Much of the pollution would be removed or lowered drastically if we left 10-20 meters of natural scrub along waterways.

Still Creek Landcare’s water testing is part of the Greater Sydney Landcare Streamwatch program who bring together volunteers from the local communities across Greater Sydney, Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Illawarra and beyond who test their local waterways on a regular basis. Streamwatch is also associated with the national Waterwatch program.

Photo by Nick Chartorisky

Recently Still Creek Landcare has assisted Hornsby Council with eDNA sampling for the presence of platypus in our creeks, a process that will be repeated in Autumn and hopefully regularly in the future. This eDNA testing goes beyond looking for Platypus, capturing a catalog of the creatures that live in and around our waterways and forming a vital baseline of the health of the waterways.

Our water testing of dissolved oxygen, phosphates, salts, turbidity and E. coli levels have shown that these waterways are capable of sustaining life and are normally relatively clear of pollutants. But as most long term residents have seen, the fish and fresh water Crays, that used to be there are there no longer or at much reduced levels.

In addition to our water testing, we periodically search for and identify insect populations, macro-invertebrates, the small creatures that fish, yabbies and platypus feed on. These creatures are also a vital barometer of the health of the waterways.

Like to know some details of our testing? See our website: Interested in joining us to learn more or assisting us with the testing program? Please contact us: Nick on 9653 256 Or find us on Facebook