Citizen Science is a phrase that’s bandied about a lot at the moment. You might think it’s a new activity but it's not. Merri Creek Management Committee (MCMC) has been at the forefront of citizen science water quality monitoring. As early as 1992 we initiated a citizen science program that involved local schools in water quality monitoring of Merri Creek.
By 2017/18 MCMC's Waterwatch program had consolidated to support 30 volunteer monitors at 15 regular monitoring sites. In 2017/18 we also educated around 2,000 students at more than 20 educational organisations (from early years up to tertiary level) on waterway health. The data from our monitoring sites is lodged via the Waterwatch Victoria online data portal and is used by EPA Victoria for their Annual Report card of waterway health.
At the State level Waterwatch and EstuaryWatch are leading the way in supporting citizen scientists to participate in monitoring of their local waterways. The two programs recently published their latest Annual Achievements Report capturing activities and achievements during 2016-17. These range from post fire recovery at Wye River to the Diamond Creek Platypus census, monitoring salinity levels in the Avon-Richardson River to informing environmental watering activities in the Lower Latrobe Wetlands, Anglesea River estuary data being used as part of Anglesea Futures to the Berg Estuary and engaging new family monitors.
Waterwatch and EstuaryWatch are long-running citizen science programs being delivered across Victoria. In 2018 the Waterwatch Program celebrates 25 years of engaging, training and supporting community volunteers to gather water quality data from rivers, lakes and estuaries. Currently more than 1000 volunteers are monitoring more than 800 sites.
Victoria’s Water Minister, Lisa Neville, said: “Active community participation in waterway management program is outlined as a priority in the Victorian Government’s Water for Victoria water plan, and as this Annual Achievements Report clearly shows the Waterwatch and EstuaryWatch programs are extremely effective at recruiting and supporting community based monitoring of our waterways” .
Funding for the community programs is part of the Victorian Government’s $222 million investment in improving waterway and catchment health. MCMC delivers its Waterwatch program through MOU partnerships with Melbourne Water, Darebin Council, Moreland Council, City of Yarra and Whittlesea Council. We also support a monitoring group in the City of Moonee Valley with contract funding from that council.