From the hills to the coast: taking action to protect marine waters

Most fishers and boat owners are careful to avoid litter, old line and oils escaping to the marine environment, but everyone can take care of inland and coastal waters by managing stormwater around the house.

What happens on the land in our catchments – in the hills and on the plains – impacts on inland and coastal water quality. What you do at home or work may seem small, but it all adds up and impacts on the quality of our coastal waters.

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is encouraging people to do what they can to improve catchment and coastal water quality and bring back the seagrasses.

Seagrasses provide habitats for many marine animal species including fish, store carbon and protect and stabilise our beaches and shorelines. Loss of seagrass along the Adelaide coast has meant that fish which were abundant are now in lower numbers or no longer present for recreational and commercial fishing.

The Adelaide community noticed the loss of seagrass, as long ago as 60 years. Today everyone can help improve water quality in catchments and coastal waters and reverse this trend of seagrass loss.

The cumulative effects of everyone’s actions have significant impacts on our waterways and oceans.

What you can do

  • Ensure that household waste does not go into stormwater drains.
  • Wash cars and boats on the lawn so the wash water does not flow into the stormwater drain, or use a commercial wash area where water is recycled.
  • Sweep up leaves around your home and put them in a green bin – never sweep them into the street gutters or hose them down.
  • Dispose of oils and other chemicals such as paint responsibly – not down the drain.
  • Clean up after pets; don’t allow water from washing pets into the stormwater drain.
  • Have gravel or permeable driveways which allow the rainwater to soak into the ground.
  • Use chemicals such as fertilisers sparingly and dispose of them responsibly.
  • Dispose of food scraps in a compost bin or worm farm.
  • Use environmentally friendly cleaning products such as vinegar and lemon juice.

What the EPA is doing
The EPA is working with SA Water to remove nutrients from our sewage effluent and improve water quality – allowing seagrass to return over time. The EPA also promotes catchment to coast water sensitive urban design (WSUD) to improve water quality from stormwater.

The EPA’s 2013 State of Environment Report and Aquatic Ecosystem Condition Reports highlight impacts of catchment activities on the varying quality of inland and coastal waters. Industry discharges, stormwater runoff from towns, boating activities and agricultural practices all impact on water quality. The poor quality of stormwater discharged to the coast after rain events means that Adelaide’s coastal waters are not suitable for swimming a few days after rain.

The EPA is partnering with industry, local government, community groups and the Australian Government’s Caring for Our Country Catchment to Coast project to implement the Adelaide Coastal Water Quality Improvement Plan which is addressing loss of seagrass, poor water quality and sediment instability along Adelaide’s coastline.

The EPA will be at this year’s Adelaide Boat Show held at the Royal Adelaide Showgrounds (26-29 June). Visit us to find out more about water quality across the state and other EPA activities that support boating, fishing and enjoyment of South Australia’s coast.

The EPA will run the Environment Trail, so get your entry form at the door and place it in the entry box at the EPA stand. You’ll be in the running for some fun prizes
For further water quality information visit the EPA website