The fabulous Merri Magical Morning opened the 2015 Sumner Loving program on 22 February, offering a new sense of place to Merri Park Northcote. The morning performance and stories from Wurundjeri dancers Djirri Djirri had the audience spellbound, and kids flocked to see the Spotted Marsh Frog, the Blue tongue lizard and the butterflies. Adults enjoyed weaving using local plants and people queued to have indigenous flora and fauna stories painted on their arms. This event was part of the three year Friends of Merri Creek Sumner Loving project, funded by the State Government’s Communities for Nature grants program. MCMC is helping the Friends of Merri Creek deliver the project.
In its headwaters in the upper Merri catchment, Edgars Creek flows over a rocky basalt plain and through new residential areas in North Epping (photo at left).
In its middle reaches this important tributary of the Merri Creek flows through an industrial landscape in Thomastown (photo at right).
In 2010 Whittlesea City Council had the Centre for Aquatic Pollution Identification and Management (at Melbourne Uni) survey water quality in drains that lead to Edgars Creek in the industrial precinct. There was a clear association between industrial estates and high pollutant loads including toxicants such as arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, mercury, nickel, silver and zinc.
Two actions resulted. EPA Victoria undertook further investigations and Whittlesea City Council and Merri Creek Management Committee partnered to prioritise stormwater education in industrial areas through a new initiative, Waterway Friendly Workplaces. MCMC trained teams visited 22 small workplaces in the summer 2013 – 14 to discuss potential pollution pathways with small business owners and their employees. Actions to reduce pollution were high on the list.
Some of these workplaces have adopted innovative practices to prevent pollutants from leaving their workplaces through stormwater drains (like the machine to extract solvent from paint - at right). Local newspapers also publicised the project.
In November 2012, a truck accident in Fawkner caused non-toxic iron oxide dye to spill into a tributary of Merri Creek and painted a wetland bright red.
The truck was exiting the Western Ring Rd on to Sydney Rd, Fawkner when 800 litres of iron oxide dye spilt into a drain leading to wetlands in the Campbellfield Creek retarding basin. The retarding basin lies between the Upfield Railway line and the Northern Memorial Park in Fawkner.
Campbellfield Creek is a tributary of Merri Creek. Melbourne Water has estimated that 17 million litres of contaminated water is contained within the wetland. Barriers have been set up to contain the dye, but some contaminated water had entered Merri Creek by Thursday 29 November 2012. Melbourne Water crews are working day and night to pump contaminated water from the wetland into a nearby sewer and are hopeful no more dyed water will enter Merri Creek.
Although the spill is non-toxic, the Leader newspaper has reported the Environmental Protection Authority will be testing to monitor potential impact. The iron oxide is used to colour landscape mulch.
Merri Creek Management Committee Manager, Luisa Macmillan, said the incident highlights the extreme vulnerability of urban waterways to pollution spills. It also shows the immense value of wetlands and other systems to filter and treat water from drains before discharge to local creeks. The wetlands on Campbellfield Creek are the only wetlands in the City of Moreland to treat road and roof runoff before it enters Merri Creek.
Saturday 1st June 2013 was the wettest June day in Melbourne on record. The Merri Creek catchment received rainfall above 57 mm from 9am Friday 31st May to 11am on Saturday 1st June.
The rain led to the media issuing a “major flood warning” at Bell St and St Georges Rd in Coburg. This means that the water was 5m above its normal level.
The flood left huge amounts of mud, litter and debris on the Merri shared path. MCMC and Moreland City Council still went ahead with a planting in Coburg on the next day to celebrate World Environment Day, despite having most of the mulch swept away and mud filling up the holes that had been dug previously.