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Go with the flow: Healing Canberra’s waterways

HerCanberra Team

Us Canberrans consider ourselves a mindful bunch.

Given our love of farmers markets, yoga, artisanal coffee and growing backyard veggies, it stands to reason that we all care a lot about the health of our city.

These days, few of us would think of chucking a used bottle or plastic rubbish in a stormwater drain, but according to H2OK: Keeping our waterways healthy, a new government education program designed to raise awareness about the declining health of our waterways, it’s not just the large-scale drains that we need to be mindful of.

The small drainage points in our suburban street might be out of sight, out of mind most of the time, but these small drains can have a huge affect on our city’s ecosystem – especially if we’re not mindful.

Many small jobs you do around the home can lead to pollutants entering our waterways.  Washing your car, mowing the lawn and fertilising your garden can all contribute to the problem.

Fun fact: algae is actually an important part of a healthy aquatic environment, however, high concentrations of nutrients can cause blue-green algae to “bloom” within just a few days. A key factor in blue-green algae growth is phosphorus which comes from organic matter – like that fresh clipped grass that was spread across the curb as you mow.

So how can we change this?

There are some easy steps you can take in the future to help improve the health of our waterways.

Firstly, an obvious step is to be mindful of what we wash and sweep into the street. Raking up fallen leaves this autumn, collecting and composting excess organic matter after you mow the lawn, washing your car on a grassy area and picking up and disposing of any litter that you see lying in the gutter are small, simple ways to make a difference to Canberra’s environment.

If you’re building, renovating or have a large garden, it’s even more important to be proactive about how your property or block affects our waterways – and it doesn’t have to take excess time or money.

Making sure to keep gravel away from the street to avoid it being washed away, disposing of any paints or chemicals at specialised recycling centres instead of down the stormwater drain and making sure to use fertilisers and pesticides sparingly are all ways you can make sure your impact on the environment isn’t blown out.

And finally, on a personal level, being vigilant when picking up after our pets and making sure to butt out responsibly can make a huge difference to the environment – even trying not to park cars on the nature strip out the front of our house is helpful. Parked cars can cause the soil to become compacted and kill the grass, which means water doesn’t soak into the ground and can wash sediment into the stormwater drain.

For more information on how to be proactive and help our waterways on their way to better health, visit the H2OK website.

Who knows, in a few years maybe swimming in in our lakes could once again become a regular summer tradition, and less of a cautionary tale.

This is a sponsored editorial. For more information on sponsored editorials, click here

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