Get involved in water testing at Bellinger River during National Science Week 2018

See citizen science in action and find out how help look after our rivers at a free community water testing event, called Water! on Sunday, August 19 at the Bellinger River, during National Science Week.

Participants can get hands-on from 10am to 1pm with water testing as part of the all-ages workshop run by Sue Lennox from OzGreen. 

Optionally, if you are using river water for drinking, you can bring a sample of your drinking water for the OzGreen team to test for faecal coliform.

These bacteria indicate pollution with faeces and potential for disease causing organisms like giardia and blastocystis to be present. Bring your sample in a clean sterile container (there is a suggested donation of $20 to help cover the cost of testing). 

Bellingen Riverwatch volunteer, Sonya Kumar testing the local water.

Bellingen Riverwatch volunteer, Sonya Kumar testing the local water.

The family-friendly event will also include sharing the findings of the Bellingen Riverwatch citizen science program. 

Bellingen Riverwatch sees community scientists and the scientific community working together to monitor and care for the health of the Bellinger, Never Never and Kalang Rivers, as well as help recovery actions to support the critically endangered Bellinger River Turtle Myuchelys georgesi.

This program is made possible by it’s amazing team of 25 community volunteers and five local schools who have been collecting monthly water quality data at 20 sites across the Bellinger and Kalang Rivers since August 2017. 

Citizen science programs such as these push the envelope of what ecologists can achieve and promotes Earth stewardship with participants, says Geetha Ortac, Senior Scientist, Citizen Science Saving our Species, Office of Environment and Heritage, one of the lead partners in the program. 

“Citizen science connects the community to genuine scientific research and helps contribute to the environment, threatened species conservation, public health and so much more,” Geetha says.

Sue Lennox, OzGreen Co-founder, says the health of the Bellinger River is key to the survival of the Bellinger River turtles and is delighted to be partnering with the Office of Environment and Heritage.

Critically endangered Bellinger River Turtle Myuchelys georgesi.

Critically endangered Bellinger River Turtle Myuchelys georgesi.

“Riverwatch provides a pathway for the people of Bellingen to get involved,” Sue says.

“We love our river and rely on the river for our water supplies. We are finding Faecal coliform in parts of the river and anecdotal evidence of water borne diseases. It’s quite concerning.”

OzGreen is also currently recruiting new volunteers into the Bellingen Riverwatch ongoing water monitoring program. If you are interested in getting involved, contact Amy on 0455 602 571 or riverwatch@ozgreen.org.au.

Water! is a free event offered by OzGreen, the Coffs Coast Regional Science Hub and supported by Inspiring Australia, a national strategy to engage communities with science for a sustainable future.

To find out more or to register for this event, visit www.ozgreen.org/www.ozgreen.org/water.

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