Water!, a citizen-science in action community workshop was held during National Science Week on Sunday 19 August on the banks of the Bellinger River in Bellingen.
All participants were keen to see the Riverwatch water testing in action. We conducted hands on activities to test river water for dissolved oxygen, available phosphate, pH, turbidity, temperature, salinity and Faecal coliform. Workshop facilitator, Sue Lennox, explained the significance of each test for river health, human health and the critically endangered Bellinger River Snapping Turtle Myuchelys georgesi.
A further 8 participants brought in drinking water samples in sterile containers to test for Faecal coliform. Water supplies that came from rain water tanks had no Faecal coliform detected per 100 ml of water. The water from a tributary of the Bellinger River on Darkwood Road had 90 Faecal coliform colony forming units per 100ml of water (Australian standard is zero). This participant reported ongoing problems with gastrointestinal infections in her family and was advised to boil drinking water and research effective water filtration system.
Following the event, 2 people signed up to train as volunteers for the Bellingen Riverwatch program, and have subsequently completed training and are now actively involved.
Bellingen Riverwatch brings together community scientists and the scientific community to support the recovery of the critically endangered Bellinger River Snapping Turtle Myuchelys georgesi. It is a citizen science project that involves volunteers in testing 20 sites across the Bellinger, Never Never and Kalang River catchments on a monthly basis.