Chinese check biosphere’s water works

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Water savings: Cecelia Witton and Lance Lloyd of the Western Port Biosphere at the Watson Creek water stewardship project with Chinese delegates Zhou Fengqi and Zhu Donglin and Somerville Secondary College students Sarah Murray and Chloe Field. Picture: Gary Sissons

Water savings: Cecelia Witton and Lance Lloyd of the Western Port Biosphere at the Watson Creek water stewardship project with Chinese delegates Zhou Fengqi and Zhu Donglin and Somerville Secondary College students Sarah Murray and Chloe Field. Picture: Gary Sissons

THE involvement of secondary college students in managing the environmental health of a creek draining into Western Port has attracted the interest of Chinese water quality experts.

Somerville Secondary College, the first school to sign up to the Western Port Biosphere’s water stewardship program, last Friday hosted a group from Jiangsu Province, north of Shanghai, led by Dr Zhu Donglin from Jiangsu Engineering Consulting and Dr Zhou Fengqi from Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.

Biosphere executive officer Cecelia Witton said the visit was “a fabulous opportunity to showcase the work the school already has underway in protecting their waterway [Watson Creek]”.

The group from China is in Australia to look at water stewardship projects which Ms Witton describes as “a form of catchment and water management which is applied at a site scale, and can be externally accredited”.

She said the Watson Creek model of water stewardship will be extended across the biosphere reserve – which includes the entire peninsula and parts of Frankston, Casey and bass Coast.

Ms Witton said the benefits of being a water steward included saving water and fertiliser management costs; improved biodiversity within the creeks and receiving waters (Yaringa Marine National Park in the case of Watson Creek); recognition of good practice through a documented water stewardship plan; and,  the potential for funding of onsite works.

A reference group supporting the Watson Creek project includes representatives from the Western Port Biosphere Reserve, Mornington Peninsula Shire, Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority, Parks Victoria, Melbourne Water, South East Water, Southern Rural Water, EPA Victoria, Inghams Enterprises and Water Stewardship Australia.

First published in the Western Port News – 22 September 2015

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