October 14, 2020

River health assessments enhance local waterway

Alcoa volunteer Joel Batten
Alcoa Environmental Scientist, Joel Batten, using a sweep net as part of a recent river health assessment.

A team of dedicated scientists and volunteers have conducted health assessments along the Serpentine River in an effort to enhance the biodiversity and ecosystem function of this important Peel waterway.

The assessments were conducted by Peel-Harvey Catchment Council in conjunction with Murdoch University and form part of the Three Rivers, One Estuary initiative funded by the Alcoa Foundation. The initiative aims to improve the health of important local waterways in the Serpentine, Murray and Harvey rivers along with the Peel-Harvey Estuary.

Peel-Harvey Catchment Council Science Advisor Steve Fisher said the river health assessments would determine the current ecological condition of the river and inform future management of the waterway.

“This includes measuring the abundance and diversity of freshwater fish, crayfish, mussels and other invertebrates, the condition of vegetation along the foreshore and water quality at selected sites along the river,” Dr Fisher said.

“Over time, and if repeated with consistency, these assessments can help measure the effectiveness of rehabilitation and management actions on those fish, crayfish and macroinvertebrate communities.”

Alcoa Environmental Scientist Joel Batten was among the volunteers that carried out the work. While Joel appreciated the opportunity to volunteer and gain experience in environmental sampling outside his routine work at Alcoa’s Wagerup Alumina Refinery, he said the benefits to the community were even greater.

“A large proportion of our workforce lives, works and plays in the Peel-Harvey area, which is why I believe it’s important for Alcoa to partner with organisations like the Peel-Harvey Catchment Council to help ensure the health of our local waterways,” Joel said.

The completed river health assessments will help to strengthen Peel-Harvey Catchment Council’s Serpentine River Action Plan, which will recommend further locations for rehabilitation efforts and additional assessment sites.