The Vasse Wonnerup Wetlands lie to the east of the Busselton town site and receive flow from the Vasse, Sabina, Abba and Ludlow rivers. The system is highly modified with diversion of flow from several of the rivers, floodgates at the exit of both estuaries and high nutrient runoff from the catchment.
Despite this modification, the wetlands have many important natural values, particularly as waterbird habitat. Each year over 30,000 birds of 90 different species utilise the wetlands. In 1990 the wetlands were listed as a Wetland of International importance under the Ramsar Convention.
The high ecological values of the wetlands are coupled with extremely poor water quality in late summer that lead to fish kills and declines in visual amenity. The wetlands are managed for multiple purposes including waterbird habitat, flood and storm surge mitigation, visual amenity and the prevention of fish kills.
Management of the Vasse Wonnerup Wetlands is coordinated by the Vasse Estuary Technical Working Group (VETWG). The VETWG is chaired by the Department of Water with representatives from the Departments of Fisheries, Parks and Wildlife, the Water Corporation, the City of Busselton, Busselton Water, West Australian Fishing Industry Council, Recfish WA and GeoCatch.
The main activities to be coordinated by the VETWG over the next three years include:
• Establishing management objectives for the Vasse Wonnerup wetlands in consultation with key stakeholders and the community
• Coordinating research and management activities to improve water quality in the Vasse Wonnerup Wetlands system
• Coordinating the involvement of other parties to provide technical support and management input to improve water quality in the Vasse Wonnerup system
• Partnering with GeoCatch to coordinate community consultation and communication regarding the Vasse Wonnerup system
• Seeking funding and partnerships for the development and implementation of a water management plan for the Vasse Wonnerup Wetlands; and
• Implementing and annually review the Fish Kill Mitigation and Response Plan for the Vasse Wonnerup Wetlands
The VETWG will be supported by community and scientific advisory groups in the development of a water management plan for the system.
Fortnightly water quality monitoring is being undertaken on the Vasse Wonnerup Wetlands by the Department of Water.
Two buoys at the Vasse floodgates undertake continuous water quality monitoring with additional weekly monitoring being undertaken in the Vasse estuary. The VETWG are coordinating a seawater inflow trial in the Vasse estuary over the 2014-15 summer period.
For more information contact Dr Kath Lynch – District Manager Department of Water 9781 0111.