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1. Wetlands - The Beginning
26 Mar 2009
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Description

NARRANDERA WETLANDS

The beginning . . . . . Sustainable Stormwater Management

Narrandera is located at the centre of the Murrumbidgee Catchment Management Authority area. The town has a population of 5000. Narrandera Landcare is a small urban landcare group. The group was formed in 1995, and became incorporated in 1998. The wetlands are located at the Southern entry to the township. It is located on the West side of the Newell Highway, between the main Murrumbidgee Irrigation Canal and the Murrumbidgee River. The site is within the Narrandera Flood Plain.

Since the early 1920s 80% of the towns stormwater run-off, discharged from the Siphon under the Irrigation Canal, into the Bundidgerry Creek and eventually flowed into the Murrumbidgee River. The stormwater was not treated and was heavily contaminated.

The wetlands were created by converting a disused ‘borrow pit’, 3.5 ha in size, into a flow through wetlands. A diversion was placed on the Bundidgerry Creek to the West of the siphon to enable stormwater inflow into the wetlands. A small channel was placed at the South West of the site for the outlet to flow back into the creek and West on to the Murrumbidgee River. Bundidgerry creek does not normally appear on maps, it is comprised of a chain of billabongs separated by grassy swales.

The borrow pit was created by the Roads and Traffic Authority when they obtained substrate from the site during their construction work on the Newell Highway. This occurred in the early 1980s following the 1974/5 floods when it was decided to raise the height of the highway at the south of the town.

Initially, it was proposed that the site be developed as a ‘heritage’ park and the borrow pit be converted into and ornamental lake (Lake Centenary or Lake Keisling). The concept was popular; however, it did not progress outside the planting of two Chinese Elms at the entrance. Following the highway construction the site was left abandoned, it became weed infested and significant eyesore at the entrance to the town.

In 1999 Narrandera Landcare petitioned the Narrandera Shire Council to develop the much neglected site as a flow through stormwater wetlands. The lobby action was successful. A partnership was formed and both the landcare group and council embarked on an extensive program of collaboration with various government agencies, and local community groups to develop the concept and win support and funding for the project. Both the council and landcare secured grant funding for the project in 2004.

The council was responsible for Project Management and the construction of the Project. Earthworks were undertaken during May and June 2005. It rained and the wetlands filled in July 2005. The landcare group was responsible for the planting program, both aquatic and native trees and shrubs, fencing requirements and for site reparation.

The site is now managed. Narrandera Landcare is responsible for the monitoring of the site and vegetation, plus the routine maintenance requirements. Almost all Narrandera Landcare members are also members of the Narrandera Shire Council Wetlands Advisory Committee.

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