What is the project about?
To restore the Eric Singleton Bird Sanctuary, reduce nutrients leading to the Swan River and secure a sustainable water source for the manmade wetland.
The total project budget was $3 million. $1.2 million was contributed by the Department of Parks and Wildlife and a further $1.8 million by the City.
This project is part of a broader strategy to improve the quality of stormwater entering the Swan River including strong catchment management initiatives.
Stormwater drainage contains nutrients that can be harmful to the health of the Swan River. The Bayswater drainage catchment (also known as the Bayswater Brook) is one of eight priority catchments for Parks and Wildlife.
The City developed a working group with the Parks and Wildlife, Water Corporation, CSIRO and the Department of Water to develop the following strategic documents to guide on ground Best Practice Management in Water Sensitive Urban Design:
1. Bayswater Drainage Implementation Strategy;
2. Bayswater Brook Action Plan; and
3. Bayswater Brook Water Quality Improvement Plan.
The keystone project of these strategies was the Eric Singleton Bird Sanctuary Restoration Project. The bird sanctuary was in a declining ecological condition prior to restoration. Examples of this were the reduced bird species and numbers observed, the wetland completely drying out in summer 2013/2014 and recorded bird deaths.
What are the key objectives of the project?
• Enhance the ecological value of the wetland through restoration activities including the bird habitat.
• Manage existing pollution within the Bird Sanctuary wetland area.
• Improve the water quality of the Bayswater Brook with a focus on removing nutrients and pollutants from base flow and low flow events.
• Greater active and passive recreation for the community.
• Provide a sustainable source of water for the Eric Singleton Bird Sanctuary.
How long did the project take?
Design and an extensive community consultation and engagement process began in 2012 with detailed design undertaken throughout 2013 by GHD Pty Ltd in consultation with the City of Bayswater, Parks and Wildlife, Water Corporation and Department of Environmental Regulation. The project began construction works in late December 2014 and was completed in October 2015.
Will there be further enhancements to visitor amenity – bird hides etc?
The City is currently working with the Department of Parks and Wildlife on further enhancements to visitor amenity such as signage, bird hides and boardwalks. The City will be seeking grant funding to support the staged implementation of these structures. Park benches have already been installed along the central groyne.
Will there be additional plantings?
Around 170,000 native plants were planted as part of the project. In total 17 wetland and 9 dryland species endemic to the region were planted including Schoenoplectus validus (River Club Rush), Baumea articulata (Jointed Twig Rush) and Baumea juncea (Bare Twig Rush) and a combination of selected trees and shrubs. Further infill planting will occur over the next couple of years.
What would have happened if we did nothing and just let nature be?
The ongoing effect of the poor water quality would likely have included:
• Frequent algal blooms;
• Continued decline of number of birds and bird deaths;
• Continued decline of species of birds;
• Lowered ecosystem and biodiversity function;
• Poor amenity values for the community; and
• Potential future risk of mosquitoes, odours and botulism.
What does the Eric Singleton Bird Sanctuary provide to the community?
||The project provides eco-recreation opportunities such as walking, bird watching and offers a place for quiet contemplation. It also improves the liveability of the area because of its tremendous ecological effects:
• Improve habitat for fauna;
• Reduce the urban heat island effect;
• Provide ecosystem services such as clean air and water; and
• Help to maintain and improve land value.
Why was the Eric Singleton Bird Sanctuary chosen for works?
- Eric Singleton Bird Sanctuary was a man made wetland in ecological decline, with decreased diversity and numbers of birds at the wetland.
- The wetland previously had algal blooms and recorded bird deaths.
- Since 1978 the Eric Singleton Bird Sanctuary was filled with bore water every summer. This resulted in the site providing one of the highest groundwater usages in the City and was unsustainable in our drying climate.
- The wetland had poor wetland water quality with high levels of nutrients and heavy metals, pH and dissolved oxygen levels were routinely outside of healthy ranges. The project had a number of important ecological effects and benefits at once: it restored the Eric Singleton Bird Sanctuary, is helping to improve the health of the Swan River, stopped the waste of groundwater and brought back a greater diversity of birds and other fauna to the wetland.
How do you know this is what Eric Singleton envisioned?
Eric Singleton was a freeman of the City and worked closely with the City at the site over the last 40 years prior to his passing.
Our officers met him at the bird sanctuary and discussed the current situation and the way he pictured the future of the bird sanctuary. One of the projects he attempted to take to improve the quality of the sanctuary involved diverting water from Bayswater Brook through the wetland via a number of large agricultural pipes. The recent restoration of the wetland was in line with the work Mr Eric Singleton started, but on a bigger scale.
The City also works in close partnership with 'The friends of Eric Singleton Bird Sanctuary'.
What are the environmental benefits of the nutrient stripping wetland?
The restoration work has injected new life into the sanctuary to ensure it will be around for future generations to enjoy.
It is anticipated that the measures introduced as part of the project will prevent around 40 tonnes of sediment, 1.35 tonnes of nitrogen and 200kg of phosphorous from entering the Swan River every year.
These nutrients contribute to the formation of algal blooms that adversely impact on the Swan Canning river systems.
Water from the Bayswater Brook is diverted initially through a gross pollutant trap (GPT) which removes
remove sand, rubbish and any other large materials before a portion of this water flows into the wetland. The water then flows through alternating deep and shallow vegetated marshes to aid pollutant removal. After water has passed though the GPT, if not diverted to the wetland, it returns immediately to the brook.
How much pollution is the wetland expected to stop from entering the Swan River?
Using engineered structures and natural processes, it has been estimated the project will remove approximately:
• 40 tonnes of sediment and rubbish
• 200 kg of Phosphorus
• 1.35 tonnes of Nitrogen
How much rubbish does the gross pollutant trap remove?
The gross pollutant trap is expected to remove around 28 tonnes of rubbish per year.
It provides a primary treatment for the Bayswater Brook average annual base flow to further improve the water quality.
Where are the nutrients coming from?
Nutrients come from a variety of sources. The most important ones are:
- Fertilisers. These are a rich source of nutrients. When overused on lawns and gardens, excess nutrients wash into the groundwater, stormwater and end up in the drains.
- The drains that cross the groundwater. This groundwater has gathered high nitrogen content over the past 100 years due to urbanisation of the area, including septic tanks, fertiliser plants and farming.
What can the community do to reduce nutrients flowing into the Eric Singleton Bird Sanctuary?
- Reduce the amount of fertiliser you use and use phosphorus free fertiliser.
- Reduce the amount of phosphorus containing cleaning products you use.
- Plant natives in your garden.
- Wash your car on the lawn instead of on hard surfaces. The grass uses the nutrients instead of it being washed down the drain.
- Pick up after your dog.
- Join local environmental friends of group.
- Review the information at the City’s website
Will there be water in the wetlands all year round?
The wetland will contain water most of the year. However, it is normal and beneficial for a wetland to dry out during some parts of the year as it will allow the wetland to process pollutants more effectively.
Has climate change and less rainfall been taken into consideration?
Climate change is expected to cause:
- Continued increases in atmospheric and water temperatures;
- An acceleration in sea and estuary water level rise;
- Decreased winter rainfall and streamflow;
- Increased warm spells and heat wave frequency, and
- Decreased flushing of the estuary due to decreased catchment flows.
These changes will result in greater pressure on Perth’s rivers and highlight the necessity of treatment wetlands such as the Eric Singleton Bird Sanctuary.
How is this project similar to other projects and how does it differ?
|| This constructed wetland improves the quality of incoming water prior to it being discharged. Like most of the constructed wetlands in Western Australia, it uses local native species to increase ecological and aesthetic values. This wetland system, as with most, uses a combination of shallow and deep, vegetated and non-vegetated zones to maximise water quality improvement.
The restoration of the Eric Singleton Bird Sanctuary is different from other wetland projects because the current situation is already a man made artificial wetland. Because of this it does not function as a 'normal' wetland.
What else is being done in the catchment?
||The City is already aiming to reduce the nutrients even further within the Bayswater Brook catchment by using water sensitive urban design projects such as rain gardens, living streams, gross pollutant traps, and behaviour change through garden workshops and audits of the industrial areas. Examples of these projects are the living stream recently built at Weld Square and the rain garden installed at Ninth Avenue as part of the RISE development..
WELD SQUARE LIVING STREAM
•To reduce pollutants entering the river from the Bayswater Brook Catchment
•To improve the amenity of the local area
•To improve local biodiversity and reduce the urban heat island effect
The State Natural Resource Management Program provided a $125,000 grant to set it up.
The City, Parks and Wildlife, Department of Water and Weld Square Primary School transformed the stormwater drain next to the school (at Weld Square Reserve) into a living stream.
Officers have re-constructed the drain to resemble a natural stream and planted more than 29,000 native plants along the watercourse to help filter and remove nutrients from the water to prevent them eventually ending up in the Swan River. The living stream will also increase biodiversity and enhance the amenity of the local area whilst helping to reduce the local urban heat island effect.
How many people live in the catchment?
60,000 - 80,000 people.
How will the contaminants from the old tip be managed so as not to enter the wetland?
The adjacent landfill only provides limited leakage into the wetland because the landfill has been encapsulated with a layer of clay material.
What monitoring is being undertaken at the wetland?
A comprehensive monitoring plan is being developed for the project that will look to validate water quality improvement estimates, allow for a better understanding of wetland function and therefore management. Social, habitat and fauna monitoring is planned to be undertaken (funding dependent).
What are the heritage aspects of the site?
The wetland is a highly disturbed man made site. Unfortunately due to the previous disturbance of the site over the last half century any historical significant would already have been damaged.
The Swan River is a very important Noongar site and a protected site under the Aboriginal Heritage Act. The City is currently working with a number of organisations to help to interpret the Noongar importance of the river.