Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Voices of the creeks


If find yourself puzzling over your bit of dirt, and how to look after it, then you’re thinking creeks. Rainfall becomes grass and trees, and rolls down slopes to gather into streams that meet up with other streams to become creeks. How to use that water, and not let it pick up pace and wash my land away?

And creeks think too. Perhaps you've heard a creek mutter: ‘Oh no, not more housing!’ In other places, the pressures are intensive agriculture, or land bankers and their weedy acres. Horses everywhere, bless them. On the horizon, reduced rainfall and higher rates of evaporation. 

Riddell town's main drain/creek
What is to be done? Melbourne’s Healthy Waterways Strategy (HWS) has been signed off by the Minister for Water. Designed between those with a stake in each of Melbourne’s five catchments, Melbourne Water (MW) has been the initiator, but HWS records the commitments to the future made between those who showed up for the planning process (cunningly disguised as Performance Objectives in the HWS, with plenty of promises). MW is a big player because it has statutory responsibility for the waterways of Melbourne. It also charges for water supply and for looking after waterways. How this revenue ought to be used is a relevant question for community groups.

Co-designing the HWS trod a well-hewn an old path. In the 1960s and 70s, engineering-based organisations like Volvo worked out how to set up autonomous work teams—co-design is the same idea, that a design is better when those with a stake are part of the design. MW did a pretty good job with this, and so too did MRSC as it developed its Biodiversity Strategy. 

Riddell now has one strategy that faces us north into the Macedon, and one that places us at the top of the flow downstream to the city and the bay. Are these strategies opportunities or just empty promises on another boulevard of broken dreams? 

Riddell Main Drain at Bolithos Road

Local groups in Riddell, Gisborne and Macedon, with help from our local Landcare facilitator, want to decide where to focus our efforts for the next 5 years or so.

We’re pulling together information on creek condition, on land use zoning and on where action is being taken. The discussion (10 December) is in the first instance for the battle-hardened stalwarts of our environment groups, but later, perhaps we can set up a way to take our thinking out to our immediate communities, and explain how we got to our priorities. And if you're just curious, come along for the ride. We'll meet at 6.00, 10 December, 288 Gap Road, for spag bol, a salad and red wine, then talk.

We need more hands on deck; we need more voices speaking out. Environmental volunteering effort is falling as a percentage of overall volunteering effort, but at the same time, many people want a stronger connection to nature. Many want to make a difference to the state of the world. What we do now as communities matters. How can we open up connections here?

The Main Drain's big brother, Riddells Creek
Deciding on priorities is a starting point for speaking up for the creeks. See also Five starting points for looking after our creeks.

Ross Colliver, Riddells Creek Landcare, ross.colliver@bigpond.com

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