Karaaf Wetlands: Council draws on community knowledge and passion

Published on 30 August 2023

Karaaf Community Reference Group member Jeff Rigby.jpg

Community knowledge and care for the Karaaf Wetlands are being drawn on to help develop solutions to address the impact stormwater is having on the culturally and environmentally significant saltmarsh.

The Karaaf Wetlands Community Reference Group, which held its first meeting in May, is working collaboratively with Surf Coast Shire Council along with other stakeholders to help ensure the future health of the Karaaf Wetlands is the best it can be.

Karaaf Wetlands Community Reference Group Chair Jeff Rigby said the group brought together 11 passionate, committed and like-minded volunteers from the local community to work with Council and consultants on a program of projects and initiatives to reduce the volume and improve the quality of stormwater that flows into the Karaaf Wetlands from north Torquay.

“Each of us has an opportunity and is expected to act in the best interests of the community by sharing our local knowledge with Council, and offering well-considered views and advice to inform plans and projects that aim to address adverse impacts to the ecological health of the wetlands with increased stormwater from urban expansion in north Torquay,” he said.

“The future of the Karaaf Wetlands is dependent on positive and proactive action that is founded on sound science and engineering, the goodwill of all stakeholders involved and a committed and unified approach by all,” Mr Rigby said.

The group’s first priority is providing input on key projects including:
- Developing stormwater diversion options.
- Improving stormwater quality and monitoring in the existing constructed wetland system.

“We are really fortunate to have so many locals who care about the Karaaf Wetlands, and the community reference group allows us to make the most of the different skillsets and passion in our community,” Surf Coast Shire Mayor Cr Liz Pattison said.

“We know that stormwater systems are complex, solutions can be expensive and we want to get it right, so the more information we have the better. We must make sure any diversion or improvement works are carefully considered to ensure there aren’t any unintended impacts.”

The Karaaf Wetlands Community Reference Group has met with stormwater management consultant Design Flow, which has been appointed to test feasibility of stormwater diversion, quality improvement and reuse options.

In the meantime, planning is underway for further improvement works and weed removal at the Esplanade constructed wetland to improve water quality.  Sediment removal and weed removal works at the Zeally Sands constructed wetland are also planned for April next year so as to avoid impacting the Latham’s Snipe migratory bird season.

Ecological monitoring of the Karaaf Wetlands and water level monitoring at two constructed wetlands sites will be set up to help Council determine the effectiveness of any actions taken.

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