Our watercourses are a living treasure because they perform many important roles that are essential to the lives of people and animals.

Every watercourse is unique and needs careful and ongoing management to ensure it can function properly. The City of Onkaparinga has recognised this and in 2013 we started delivering an exciting large scale, five year watercourse restoration project called the Urban Creek Recovery project which has received funding support from the Australian Government and the Government of South Australia.

Urban Creek RecoveryThe City of Onkaparinga has 35 creeks and rivers across 10 different catchments (1.9Mb) that are located in this region.

A catchment is the area of ground where rain falls and flows by gravity across the surface into creeks and rivers and ends up in the sea or a lake. Catchments in our region include the entire catchments of the Aldinga Washpool, Pedler Creek, Christies Creek, Maslins Creek, Willunga Creek and Sellicks Creek as well as part of the lower Onkaparinga River catchment and estuary, the majority of the Field River catchment and a number of creeks within the Sturt River catchment.

The water that flows through a watercourse and the land next to it is often described as a riparian zone. Healthy riparian zones contain a group of native plants that are specially adapted to cope with an environment that has varying water flows. Some of these plants include different species of reeds and sedges (coarse grass-like plants), many types of shrubs, groundcovers and magnificent River Red gums. To stay healthy, watercourses need to have a variety of native plant species that each performs important functions such as filtering water, stabilising soil and restricting the movement of salt and nutrients into streams. The vegetation also provides food and shelter for many native animal species as well as being a natural corridor to allow them to move across the landscape. 

Major changes that impact the way water flows through our landscape have occurred since European settlement including vegetation clearance, stock grazing, cropping, and construction of reservoirs, dams, drains and other infrastructure. The introduction of plants from other countries and other parts of Australia is also causing a lot of problems in our creeks including smothering natural habitat, causing flooding or erosion, increasing bushfire danger and reducing water quality. 

Here are some examples of the type of work we do to manage vegetation around our watercourses:

  • Control weeds that can push out other native plants, wreck habitat for wildlife and block drainage.
  • Control or reduce some native reeds that can grow excessively due to high nutrient levels. 
  • Remove rubbish, debris and silt.
  • Introduce or leave wildlife habitat such as logs and rocks.
  • Plant local native seedlings to help manage erosion, create homes for wildlife and bring back native plant species that have disappeared from that site. 
  • Protect some natural areas from damage such as people walking and driving over sensitive native vegetation and fragile soils.
  • Work with passionate volunteers who help look after our natural areas and teach others about our amazing plants and animals.
  • Monitor the level of weed infestations and the condition of native vegetation to assess the health of our native vegetation and track changes over time.

Protecting our watercourses is a team effort. Specially trained council staff, contractors and volunteers work hard to ensure that our natural heritage survives for future generations.

You could make a difference and help us protect and expand the city’s natural areas by becoming a volunteer.