A huge 80 per cent reduction in phosphorous levels has been recorded over the past ten years as the result of an important SA Water initiative to improve the quality of inflows to the Mount Bold Reservoir.

With high levels of nutrients like phosphorous previously flowing from farming properties upstream, down the small catchment and into the Onkaparinga River, crews in 2006 constructed a natural wetland at the Woodhouse Activity Centre and a separate sedimentation basin at the nearby Brookes Bridge.

SA Water’s Manager Catchments, Wastewater and Environmental Science, Jacqueline Frizenschaf, said the initiative traps and removes large amounts of sediment from the creek before it flows into metropolitan Adelaide’s largest drinking water storage.

“Monitoring the balance of nutrients in our waterways is an important step in maintaining the taste and odour of our water, with phosphorus in particular a potential driver of algae which leads to extra work for our water treatment plant operators,” Ms Frizenschaf said.

“The end result has proved to be one of the most significant catchment measures of its kind in the Mount Lofty Ranges, with around one to two tonnes of phosphorous each year removed from the water course.

“Having a functioning natural environment is critical to the health of our water catchments, which help ensure the water quality in our reservoirs is safely and cost effectively maintained for our customers.”

The proactive initiative was a collaboration between SA Water, the Environmental Protection Authority, Scouts SA, the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board and the wider Piccadilly Valley community.

General Manager of the Woodhouse Activity Centre, James Sellers, said SA Water’s efforts had made a significant impact on improving the facility’s natural outlook.

“Having a native ecosystem on our property has become an extremely important educational feature where school groups, scouts and the wider community can study water birds and other aquatic wildlife thriving in their natural surroundings,” Mr Sellers said.

“This is now a highly-valued and tranquil natural area for the Mount Lofty Ranges, and we look forward to working with SA Water on this site well into the future.”

Main image caption: SA Water and Woodhouse Activity Centre staff at the wetland. Image credit: SA Water.

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