The state of our regional waterways is a major subject of concern. Drought, climate change, floods, fires and water management practices are all elements of what is a very complex, but important, conversation.
Orange residents will recall last July, the University hosted a free "Explorations Series" public lecture by Dr Lee Baumgartner, Associate Research Professor in Fisheries and River Management at the Charles Sturt University Institute for Land, Water and Society. Dr Baumgartner, who was part of an independent panel established in 2019 to assess the series of large-scale fish deaths at Menindee in the lower Darling, warned the audience at the time that fish kill events were very likely to happen again.
This month, our Dubbo campus is hosting another Explorations Series public lecture titled "Saving Native Fish in the Murray-Darling Basin". This event and subject-matter is so popular it has already sold out.
A recent paper co-authored by Charles Sturt University academic, Adjunct Professor Max Finlayson, now highlights the dangers of Australia's recent bushfire crisis turning into a waterway crisis. Professor Finlayson, from the Institute for Land, Water and Society, co-authored "Floods after bushfires: rapid responses for reducing impacts of sediment, ash, and nutrient slugs", with Mr Jason Alexandra from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. The paper urges immediate action to minimise the fires' impact on Australian waterways.
Professor Finlayson and Mr Alexandra write about the risks posed to waterways, catchments, wetlands, lakes, and estuaries when rainfall washes silt and ash into them. Fire-affected areas are susceptible to erosion so heavy rain could wash sediment, ash, and nutrients into waterways. The result is potential algal blooms, problems for urban water supplies, and fish kills.
The published article identifies four focus areas - assessing the risk and options for co-ordinated policy responses; making water supplies a priority for assessment and treatment; identifying important habitat areas and at-risk species of fish; and increasing monitoring and health warnings for the public. Professor Finlayson said investing in water supplies and quality benefits human health and reduces economic loss. He said quick reaction will ensure the bushfire crisis does not become a waterways crisis.
If you would like to be notified of upcoming Explorations Series public lectures, on a wide range of subject matter, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.