Monday 5th November 2018

WSU student presentations

Three Natural Science students at Western Sydney University recently presented their findings on studies conducted of different aspects of waterway health in the Parramatta River, as part of a research project undertaken on behalf of the PRCG for their final year of study.

The students focused their study on a section of Bellbird Creek that runs along the northern end of George Thornton Reserve in West Pennant Hills.

The relationship between pet waste and river quality

Jessica Jones studied the relationship of pet waste with the health of the reserve, monitoring the effect of rain on the breakdown rate and dispersion of specific samples. She demonstrated that pet waste remains in the environment for a very long time and rainfall has an immediate effect on the breakdown and dispersal of faeces and associated bacteria. She also observed the correlation between the location of pet waste bins and bags and number of dog droppings and recommended the installation of more bins for pet waste disposal throughout the reserve to reduce pollution.

Recreational potential of a small creek

Cerys Akam studied the recreational potential of Bellbird Creek, comparing the water quality to legislative guidelines. Samples were measured across four sites over four days, and results indicated that the creek is currently not a viable site to prioritise for swim activation as bacterial readings were above recommended guidelines. Given the prevalence of rocks and concrete along the creek foreshore, Cerys recommended the planting of more aquatic tolerant plants to improve water quality.

Microplastics in a freshwater creek

Nicole Rigas assessed the presence or absence of micro plastic particles in a freshwater creek. She observed that the main type of litter present in the reserve included plastic, glass and cigarette butts that were found closer to the sporting field at the southern end of the reserve. Results of water and sediment sampling revealed bags containing pet waste, bottle caps, small polystyrene beads and a significant amount of small glass particles. Nicole recommended that Bellbird Creek was currently not suitable for water-related recreational activities and that the placement of more bins for rubbish and pet waste throughout the reserve would likely help reduce pollution.

Congratulations to all the students on their well-researched, articulate and confident presentations. We are very fortunate to have worked with such capable and enthusiastic students who are already making a meaningful contribution to the conservation of the Parramatta River and surrounding environment. We wish them well in their future scientific careers.

Date: 05 November 2018