Water, Soil and the link with Aboriginal heritage

Among the many draft and yet to be peer reviewed documents that backup the Southern Rivers Catchment Action Plan is one, simply titled Water, that provides the most up to date inadequate information on water quality testing from the Towamba, Bemboka, Brogo, Tuross, Deua and Clyde rivers.

Accordingly the Water paper indicates, ” . . . Analysis of water quality from seven sites where data has been collected for 30+ years up to 2006 (NSW DECCW 2010b) indicates stable water temperatures and electrical conductivity, but increasing turbidity, although, as noted previously, confidence in the quality of this data is low for EC and temperature and moderate for turbidity.”

And in the past two years ” . . . ANZECC guidelines for total phosphorous have been exceeded in 50% of the samples taken for the Bemboka River. Over the same period turbidity exceeded ANZECC guidelines in 63% of the samples taken from the Bemboka River and 42% of the samples taken from the Clyde River.”

Explaining these outcomes from a soil perspective is fairly straight forward but, as pointed out in studies undertaken in the Moruya and Tuross catchments, the methods agreed between the agencies largely ensure that testing is not undertaken during actual rainfall events and they prefer to talk about ‘regolith’ as opposed to soils.

According to Wiki, the term regolith was originally coined to describe ‘lunar soil’ because ‘ . . . soil is defined as having organic content, whereas the Moon has none. However, standard usage among lunar scientists is to ignore that distinction.[citation needed]’

Back on Earth and particularly in NSW, many people are employed to ignore this distinction, so regolith is a far more popular term than soils in the agencies. The problems emerge when attempting to explain issues like increased water turbidity, as in the ‘NSW Diffuse source water pollution strategy‘ that can only say it ‘is a complex issue’.

With all the talk about Aboriginal cultural heritage and managing the ‘Yuin Mountains’ as a single landscape, I’ve put my hand up for the Koori biodiversity work crew job, mainly to confirm an ongoing interest in the CMA’s proposals and despite my reluctant feelings, am aiming to submit brief comments on the YM management plan, due on April 12.


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