The Hunter River is at a growing risk of algal bloom outbreaks with the water’s phosphate levels testing above Australian water quality guidelines, a new study has revealed.
Phosphate levels across Maitland waterways have come under the spotlight following the results of phosphate testing – known as P-Week 2012 – across the region.
According to the results, samples at Hillsborough (0.10mg/L), Melville Ford (0.13mg/L), the Belmore Bridge (0.22mg/L) and Morpeth boat ramp (0.10mg/L) measured well above the 0.06mg/L guideline.
“Phosphorous is a major contributor to water quality problems in the form of phosphate and can lead to outbreaks of the toxic blue-green algae across the Hunter-Central Rivers region,” Hunter-Central Rivers Waterwatch catchment officer Ingrid Berthold said.
Phosphate is an essential plant and animal nutrient that occurs naturally in low concentrations in Australian soil and water.
“The problem occurs when too much phosphate enters our waterways. This is where we all play a part via detergents, fertilisers, sewage, sediments from erosion and dog droppings which are all high in phosphorus. When they enter our waterways, particularly through stormwater systems, they can lead to serious water quality issues.”
But according to Ms Berthold, reducing the impact we have on our waterways is neither difficult nor expensive.
“Reducing soil erosion, washing the car on the lawn rather than the driveway, choosing no phosphorous laundry detergents, applying fertilisers sparingly to avoid run-off, managing cattle access to waterways and picking up dog droppings are just some of the simple ways we can all help to make a huge improvement to the quality of our local waterways.”
Ms Berthold said volunteers are needed around the Maitland area to undertake monthly water testing in the Hunter River.
Each volunteer will be trained and receive ongoing support from the Hunter Region Waterwatch team based in Tocal.
“We are looking for one or more new volunteers in the Maitland area to test the Hunter River at Bolwarra, Maitland or Morpeth,” Ms Berthold said.
“We’ve just had a volunteer move out of the area and would like to have that volunteer position replaced to continue ongoing data collection at the river. We would also welcome any additional volunteers.”
* For more information phone 4930 1030.