Eyes on Creeks is about letting people in government agencies know what we see happening that affects our creeks. It's the third of our Commitments to Creeks here at Riddell. There is plenty of science on waterways health, but disjointed responses to issues by government and between government and community groups. One place to start is making what we each see more visible.
Take this instance of plain old bad practice.
I was out walking in late January, as the cool came on, to settle a leisurely dinner, when I saw machinery tracks and dirt just up from my place. "That's strange," I thought. "What would have done that?"
A couple of nights later, we walked on further, and close to 385 Gap Road I found this.
The source of this dumped soil was right there on the other side of the road - the drain had been cleared by the Macedon Ranges Shire Council.
Rather than fuming with impotent rage and do nothing, I fired off an email to Michelle Wyatt, who heads the environment team at MRSC. We need to let staff in government agencies know what we're seeing, so they can mobilise action inside their agency.
The idea of Eyes on Creeks is to give this more grunt by posting photos on a map that we build up as a community group. If a few of us do this, the map will suggest where the pressures on our creeks are showing up. We can decide which issues we want to more noise about as community organisations.
Looking 10 metres on from this small disaster was the easternmost entrance to Barrm Birrm, and I thought I could see one possible solution. The silt in the drain got there from this track, where rain scours out deep channels, to the point where even the 4WD Brumby had to turn back.
How hard would it be, I wondered, for the excavator and its operator to put what it had cleared from the drain back up that track, in a way that slowed the flow and diverted the rush of water off the track.
I'm no engineer, but it seems to me that stopping the source of the silt that blocks the drains on road is a better use of ratepayers' money than repeatedly cleaning up downstream of the problem. Can't we do better than this? It's not going to go away: we have a 2 km long stretch of bush shedding clay after every rainfall event.
Whatever the creative solution to this difficult problem (tracks on private land, building off-takes firm enough to withstand heavy rainfall, and not killing more of the bush in the process), there's this - on a road designated as "Significant Roadside Vegetation" by MRSC, having MRSC crews, or their contractors, dumping spoil onto native vegetation is really stupid.