Department of Water Media Statement
State and local government agencies have been busy over the Christmas-New Year period in the Vasse-Wonnerup estuaries as summer hots up and stresses mount on water quality.
Live monitoring of dissolved oxygen levels and water temperature and several scientific trials have provided the best picture yet of the micro-detail to the events that plague the waterways at this time of year.
“The Wonnerup Inlet sandbar was opened by the Water Corporation the day before Christmas and the oxygenation plant has been running to capacity due to the very low dissolved oxygen in the system,” Department of Water South West region manager Adam Maskew said.
“This year we are seeing the extent of all the effort we are putting in to bring together monitoring and management responses to assist the system during this stressful time.
“The oxygen pumps have been running around 8 hours a day for the Christmas and New Year period, reaching to 14 hours a day on 2 January when the water temperature rose to 30.2 degrees.”
Mr Maskew said the sandbar had been opened in December about a week earlier than planned, and that gates allowing fish passage out of the Vasse Estuary to the Wonnerup Inlet opened for 4 to 6 hours per day starting the first week of January.
“With this and the removal of algal scum from the floodgates area, we have enacted appropriate measures, and we will continue to monitor the situation and adjust as appropriate.”
Mr Maskew said data gathered during the scientific trials undertaken over the past month around the surge barrier would add to the insights and continuous improvement of short and long term management responses.
“The channel in front of the Vasse surge barrier is the area that experiences the poorest water quality over summer and is the area about which we receive most complaints.”
Improving water quality in the Vasse-Wonnerup estuary channel is a major focus of the Revitalising Geographe Waterways program, made possible by Royalties for Regions.