Community Stream Monitoring
Sources of salt in Jugiong Creek Catchment
An aerial survey conducted by the Australian Geological Survey in 2001, concluded that the north-west quadrant of the Cunningham Creek sub-catchment (Demondrille and Connaughtmans Creek) were the main sources of salinity in the Jugiong Creek catchment. However, the accuracy of this finding was questioned by long-term landholders.
In 2003, HMLG together with the Bureau of Rural Sciences (BRS) developed a project to reassess landscape salt-stores in the Cunningham Creek catchment using simple, low-cost, and more direct techniques.
The community played a key role in data collection for this project.
Every month, members of HMLG used water meters to measure electrical conductivity (EC), as an indicator of salinity, at 16 sample sites in the catchment.
Stream EC readings for the period March 2003 to March 2004 were combined with three other techniques implemented by BRS: EM31 surface electromagnetic surveys, drilling of the regolith and measurement of salt content in samples, as well as geophysical logging of the drill holes. While the study was concentrated on the Currawong and Demondrille Creek areas of the Cunningham Creek sub-catchment, findings strongly indicated that any landscape salt-storage in the area was small and localised.
BRS expanded their study to identify sources of salinity, which led to community stream sampling being extended to all sub-catchments within the Jugiong Creek catchment. Between April 2006 and April 2012, more accurate meters were used to take monthly EC and temperature readings. Salt loads were determined by Theiss Environmental Services.
Using the sample data from between April 2006 to April 2009 and salt load determinations, the ten sub-catchments within the Jugiong Creek catchment were ranked with respect to base-flow water salinity, from freshest to saltiest.
The highest stream salinity in the Jugiong Creek catchment was identified as being in the northern and eastern regions of the catchment.
Identifying the high salinity areas in the catchment enabled Murrumbidgee CMA to develop targeted on-ground land management projects. Areas could be selected where the greatest management impact could be realised therefore, assisting to reduce in-stream salinity in the Murrumbidgee River.