Gardening Habit Changes Improve Regional Estuaries: Report

Regional waterways are healthier following a reduction of fertiliser pollution, according to a new report.

An independent evaluation of programs reducing fertiliser to gardens showed Geographe Bay and Leschenault Estuary waters have improved following an introduction of the programs last year.

As part of the Bay OK and Love the Leschenault programs to improve waterway health, about 22 general waste wheelie bins full of fertiliser were not applied to gardens in Busselton and Australind in 2018.

The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation review showed fertiliser pollution fell by about 3,200 kilograms.

40 per cent of participants in the targeted communities avoided fertiliser during the winter, while 44 per cent switched to controlled-release fertiliser.

More than 480 householders in Australind, Bovell and Yalyalup received personalised garden advice as part of the State Government funded programs.

Advice included coaching over-the-phone, in-home garden consultations, feedback letters and community garden workshops.

Residents were offered tips from garden experts on small changes to lessen nutrient run-off into local water ways after being surveyed about fertiliser and irrigation habits.

The two programs aim to transform world-leading science into on-ground actions delivered to protect key South-West estuaries most at risk from climate change and land use.

Water Minister Dave Kelly said the results are examples of changes that improve high-value coastal waterways.

“Love the Leschenault and Bay OK are excellent examples of how local communities can make small changes to contribute towards improving the health of our high-value coastal waterways.”

“The State Government’s Regional Estuaries Initiative aims to improve the long-term water quality and biodiversity of catchment areas while enhancing public amenity and productivity of primary industries and communities,” Mr Kelly said.

“About 80 per cent of Western Australians live around estuaries that are central to our way of life, regional jobs, and the State’s economy by supporting businesses, recreation and tourism.”

“As climate change continues to have a profound impact on our waterways in the south west of WA, it’s important everyone plays a part in protecting our beautiful water environments.”

Bunbury MLA Don Punch said the changes in the way people were gardening were improving the health of waterways.

“I know just how much the communities of Greater Bunbury value the Leschenault Estuary so we all owe a great deal of thanks to the people who are changing their gardening habits and helping improve the health of the estuary for all of us,” Mr Punch said.

He said the community relied on clean waterways.

“Leschanault Estuary is widely used for recreational and commercial purposes – from fishing and crabbing for fun to supporting local jobs in tourism and hospitality, and enhancing the value of surrounding real estate,” Mr Punch said.

“Less fertiliser means healthier waterways and fewer fish kills.”

Murray Wellington MLA Robyn Clarke said waterways needed to be protected.

“The protection of our valuable waterways is an issue of importance for the local community,” Ms Clarke said.

“I congratulate local households for their efforts, not only will they now save money on garden upkeep, but they will also reduce pollution in our local waterways.”

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