Shire assessing health of Karaaf Wetlands

August 1, 2022 BY

Corangamite MP Libby Coker (right) and Minister for Energy and Climate Change Chris Bowen tour the Karaaf Wetlands during a visit in January. Photos: SUPPLIED

A MORE accurate understanding of the impact stormwater runoff is having on the Karaaf Wetlands will be known with the pending release of two separate assessments of the unique ecological system.

Commissioned by the Surf Coast Shire, the first study by renowned botanical field ecologist Doug Frood will evaluate the environmental condition of the wetlands and include an audit of: invasive and native species, areas experiencing dieback and other issues relevant to stormwater flows, freshwater intrusion, inundation, infrastructure or land use.

Urban water specialists DesignFlow are leading the second assessment that’s focusing on the suitability of the stormwater system and constructed wetlands at nearby housing estates, and identifying short and long-term interventions to improve their functionality.

“These assessments will help community and government to get a clear consensus of what a healthy Karaaf looks like and will provide valuable insights into how urban development can impact natural ecosystems,” Surf Coast mayor Libby Stapleton said.

The Karaaf Wetlands are downstream of North Torquay’s development boom.

“Once the data gathering is complete we will have a better picture of what issues exist and what the next steps should be. This information will feed into the development of an integrated water management plan that reflects our commitment to preserving our environment now and into the future.”

The full findings of both assessments are expected to be released in August.

Recognised as one of the region’s most productive carbon sinks, the 320 hectare wetlands are a hyper saline saltmarsh that provide critical habitat to a wide range of species, including the migratory waders from North Asia and the orange-bellied parrot.

The new federal government made a $1.9 million election pledge to improve the ecological state of the wetlands, with a focus on improving the retention and filtering of stormwater runoff and reducing the amount of pollutants, or potential for pollutants, to reach environmentally significant areas in the system.

This commitment will be reviewed and put forward for consideration in Labor’s first budget, due to be handed down in October this year.