Community Water Quality and Ecology Education Program - MDBC Project E5043 / MDFRC Project M/03/5110
MDFRC Technical Report
As the information under the "Background” heading indicates, there was a need for information on all aspects of water quality and freshwater life generally throughout the Basin. Community members, schools, universities and service clubs were the chief seekers and recipients of this information. The Murray Darling Freshwater Research Centre became the focus for information requests from the above groups with Mike Copland's appointment as Education Officer. He provided the information through talks, seminars, class lessons, field trips, individual assistance, written answers and suggestions for further research. Schools in particular often required specific help in provision of resources, curriculum construction, field trips and practical work . This information "service" was Basin wide and personal if possible. Murray-Darling Basin Commission resources were used and showcased at every opportunity as well as the functions of the Murray Darling Basin Commission being explained. Mike's availability and his evident success in providing information led to him being involved in more and more diverse activities throughout the Basin and as a presenter representing the Murray Darling Freshwater Research Centre, the Murray Darling Basin Commission and the Co-operative Research Centre for Freshwater Ecology in general terms . Appendices A and B indicate the various schools and groups visited and provided with information/programmes/guidance/etc during this project. The section of the project known as a "Testing Time for Water” was a programme based on the Tennessee Valley Authority (USA) work which involved training groups of teachers and students in the use of water quality testing kits and the appropriate techniques for collection, classification and assessment of macro-invertebrates in waterways. The Murray Darling Freshwater Research Centre and the Co-operative Research Centre for Freshwater Ecology were involved in a training workshop for eight Murray-Darling Basin teacher/ student teams to equip these teams with the sort of knowledge and skills the University of Tennessee provided for the TVA participants. The MDBC teams came from the following schools; Mt Austin High School Wagga Wagga - Corryong Secondary College Corryong - Tallangatta Secondary College Tallangatta - The Scots School Albury - Shepparton High School Shepparton - Wodonga West Secondary College Wodonga - Catholic College Wodonga - Cobram Secondary College Cobram. After the training workshop the teams returned to their schools and devised and commenced a water quality testing programme appropriate to their local area. An example is Appendix C. This work commenced in March and a report was expected in September. Following the completion of their projects the teams would be eligible to join a field trip to the Tennessee Valley to meet with similar teams there, to observe their work and to observe the various uses of water in that part of the world.
Members of similar testing teams in the Tennessee Valley who had been working on similar projects were able to visit Australia during the Easter break. The visit was organised by Mike Copland in Australia and Mark Stallings in the USA and their travel was sponsored by Coca Cola. The American team visited with, worked with and exchanged ideas with water quality testing (Streamwatch) schools in the Sydney area. They were al so shown how the water for Sydney is collected, used and disposed of. The Tennessee Valley team moved into the Murray darling Basin in the Albury region where they worked with scientists from the Murray Darling Freshwater Research Centre, the schools of the region and the Testing Time for Water teams. Aspects of freshwater in this region such as blue-green algae, salinity and billabongs were the foci of their visit. They returned to Sydney through the Snowy Mountains and Canberra where further investigations into water use and utilisation took place. Mike Copland led this trip transporting the visitors in a bus provided by the New South Wales Education Department, thus it was a co-operative venture with input from the Murray Darling Basin Commission the Murray Darling Freshwater Research Centre, Sydney Water, Streamwatch and the Education Departments. Four of the original Murray-Darling Basin groups had completed their projects by September and agreed to the second part of the exchange with them travelling to Georgia and Tennessee. Unfortunately there was no corporate sponsorship at this end and each individual had to find $2000. This was achieved in various ways such as fund raising drives and sponsorship from service clubs such as Rotary. The team spent two weeks in the U S K and successfully interacted with their American hosts and their programme, so that at the end of the reciprocal visits there was much greater understanding of the successes and failures in water quality in both countries by both teams.