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In this edition of the quarterly ebulletin from the Derwent Estuary Program - read about the recent croc sighting, ricegrass survey results and how DEP partnerships are supporting the management of the Derwent and science education.

Strong partnership continues to improve Derwent estuary

On 23 September 2014 Tasmanian State Minister for the Environment Matthew Groom joined with the mayors of the councils that border on the Derwent estuary (Brighton, Clarence, Derwent Valley, Glenorchy, Hobart and Kingborough) and CEOs of our five business partners (Nyrstar Hobart Smelter, Norske Skog Paper, TasWater, the TasPorts and Hydro Tasmania) to sign the third Derwent Estuary Program (DEP) Partnership Agreement.

By renewing the agreement, partners agree a strategic and coordinated management approach across all levels of government, industry and the community remains our best prospect for a cleaner and healthier estuary in the future.

The first Derwent Estuary Program (DEP) Partnership Agreement was signed in 2001 and the second in 2009 and both included the implementation of an Environmental Management Plan.

Key areas for action include:

• Managing and reducing heavy metal contamination
• Preventing eutrophication
• Promoting water sensitive urban design
• Conserving iconic habitats and species
• Education and interpretation

Since 1999 more than $150 million has been spent towards environmental improvements and the Derwent is now showing promising signs of recovery. During the past decade, there have been substantial reductions in discharges of organic matter (greater than 90 percent), heavy metals (greater than 60 percent), and sewage-derived nutrients (10 – 20 percent), as well as improvements in stormwater treatment.

As the condition of the estuary improves, there is growing interest in conserving and enjoying the Derwent’s natural features. The DEP has led initiatives to increase the area of protected wetlands by 40 percent and to preserve iconic species such as the little penguin and the endangered spotted handfish.

More recently, the DEP has encouraged the enjoyment of the Derwent through the use of foreshore tracks by developing the Greater Hobart Trails website.

The Derwent is Hobart's playground - just one of the many reasons for keeping the Derwent clean.

Ursula Taylor representing the DEP with Minister for the Environment Matthew Groom at the event.

Saltmarsh, like wetlands, filter water and provide a nursery area for fish.

Croc in the Derwent

Could this be a sign of global warming? The things you find on the ricegrass survey are often not that exciting but sometimes they are surprising. This is the first 'croc' sighting in the Derwent. 

No ricegrass this year!

During October eight volunteers joined the DEP team to scour the eastern and western sides of the foreshore between the Bridgewater causeway and the Bowen Bridge searching for the highly invasive intertidal weed known as ricegrass. Thankfully no ricegrass was found however we will continue to monitor the estuary annually as seeds can survive for up to five years. A big thank you to the volunteers from Glenorchy City Council, Clarence City Council, the Inland Fisheries Service, Parks and Wildlife Service, UTAS and Threatened species unit at DPIPWE who all took part. We could not have done this survey without you.

Photo: Water Resources Division, DPIPWE

DEP and PWS promote estuary science education

The Derwent Estuary Program (DEP) and Parks and Wildlife Service Discovery Rangers are combining forces to bring the diversity of the Derwent estuary into schools and the wider community.

Information about the Derwent’s wetlands, saltmarshes and rocky reefs is now available online for teachers and students to use in the classroom and out in the field.

Tasmania’s Parks and Wildlife Service Discovery Rangers have expertise in delivering science in a fun and informative way and will use the DEP’s resources at local primary schools. This partnership is an excellent example of sharing expertise to deliver locally collected science to the community.

There are wetlands, saltmarshes and rocky reefs on Hobart’s doorstep that support an amazing array of birds, fish and even marine mammals and up until recently teacher resources on many of these topics have had to be sourced from elsewhere, including interstate.

The Discovery Rangers have helped the DEP adapt our information so that students can better engage with the experience and therefore learn more. The strength of the Discovery Rangers is finding creative ways to use this information to connect with their audience.

Teachers or students interested in using the DEP classroom and outdoor resources themselves can find them online here.

For further information about the PWS Discovery Ranger program go to the Parks and Wildlife Service website.

Photo: Rosetta Primary School students visited Goulds Lagoon where they learnt why wetlands are known as filters and how so many birds and invertebrates come live there.

About the Derwent Estuary Program

The Derwent Estuary Program (DEP) is a regional partnership between the Tasmanian State Government, local governments, commercial and industrial enterprises, and community-based groups to restore and promote our estuary.

The DEP was established in 1999 and has been nationally recognised for excellence in coordinating initiatives to reduce water pollution, conserve habitats and species, monitor river health and promote greater use and enjoyment of the foreshore.

Our major sponsors include: the Tasmanian State Government, Brighton, Clarence, Derwent Valley, Glenorchy, Hobart and Kingborough councils, TasWater, TasPorts, Norske Skog Boyer, Hydro Tasmania and Nyrstar Hobart.

We also work collaboratively on projects with CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, University of Tasmania, Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies and NRM South.

For further information please contact:
Ursula Taylor e: Ursula.Taylor@environment.tas.gov.au