A Clean Bill of Health for Ward 2’s Waterways?

Blacktown Council would be the first to admit that local waterways aren’t good advertisements for Council’s environmental management. A glance at the most recent “Waterway Health Report Card” posted on its website reveals “poor” health grades at 39% of the monitoring sites on creeks throughout the LGA. Less than 18% of the sites show “good” or higher grades.

Too many of the Ward 2 waterways are just stormwater channels—shallow concrete gutters with a bit of water flowing down the middle, and not much vegetation apart from weeds growing out of cracks. This more natural creek, in Lalor Park, might seem a welcome contrast, but its banks are eroding, it is clogged with litter, and it smells.

The monitoring sites on Blacktown Creek and Lalor Creek in Seven Hills show water quality poor enough that waterbugs that can’t abide pollution don’t survive there. Vegetation health along the banks gets an E (the second lowest fail grade), awarded for lack of biodiversity, too many weeds and too few native plants. The Toongabbie Creek site on the border of our LGA lands a straight F for vegetation health along its banks.

It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way

Where Council makes the effort, results can be spectacular. At the moment, Council has two joint projects with Sydney Water, one at Caddies Creek in Glenwood and one at Strangers Creek in Kellyville. The banks and creek beds are being made more natural, with soil replacing concrete and native vegetation being planted. The work is being done with due attention to the function of these creeks during storm surges. They will still help drain stormwater quickly so that floods can be avoided.

The difference Council investment can make is seen in Kings Langley, where rehabilitated creeks and channels grace the reserves all the way from the M7 Motorway to and indeed past the Solander Road shops. Erosion is controlled thanks to retaining walls. Bridges and pathways cross over the reedbeds that filter the creek and offer habitat for ducks and frogs.

To be sure, these projects do take planning, money and time. Your local Greens team understands that. As your Ward 2 councillor, Len will push for a feasibility study to initiate a roll-out of the creek and channel rehabilitation program throughout the length and breadth of Blacktown, starting with the waterways that have the lowest health grades.

Why Does it Matter?

It’s partly about fairness. On sunny weekend mornings, Kings Langley locals can picnic, walk the dog, play tennis, jog or go for bike rides in the cared-for environment that helps make Kings Langley so liveable. Why shouldn’t residents of Lalor Park enjoy the same? Elected as your Ward 2 councillor, Len will push for Lalor Park to get a fair share of the funding so that its waterways can be upgraded and made accessible for locals to enjoy.

On a larger scale, improving the health of waterways throughout the Blacktown LGA will improve river health throughout the Sydney basin. The Blacktown LGA includes parts of the catchment areas of all three of our great river systems: the Hawkesbury, Parramatta and Georges Rivers. From the narrow creek in Blacktown all the way down to the sea, high water quality, unobstructed river flows and lush green banks will mean richer wildlife, cooler temperatures and healthier communities. 

When all sorts of waterbugs live happily in Blacktown creeks, we’ll benefit, and we will know that we are only sending unpolluted water to the ecosystems downstream.