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The Hon Dr Sharman Stone
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Federal Member for Murray
8 July 2002
Dr Sharman Stone, Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment and Heritage, today opened a conference celebrating 10 years of the National Waterwatch network at the University of Tasmania in Launceston.
Waterwatch is part of the Howard Government's $2.5 billion Natural Heritage Trust, the largest ever environmental rescue package in Australia's history.
Dr Stone acknowledged the work of 50,000 volunteers who, through the Natural Heritage Trust Waterwatch program, are helping to protect our rivers and streams.
"Dedicated Waterwatchers from all States and Territories are educating and raising community awareness about water quality and broader natural resource management issues right across Australia," Dr Stone said.
"Since its inception in 1992, the Waterwatch network has grown to nearly 3,000 groups monitoring 200 catchments. Over 50,000 Australians participate in the network and regular monitoring occurs at over 5,000 sites across the country.
"The success of the Waterwatch network has been a result of the commitment of ordinary people who have an intimate knowledge of their local waterways. In Saltwatch Week for instance, groups specifically monitor salinity in their region.
"As we move towards integrated regional natural resource management planing, the Waterwatch network will play an increasingly important role in conservation.
"Waterwatchers have provided some of the crucial baseline data needed to make decisions about local water quality issues. They then help regions to monitor their achievements.
"As the State of the Environment Report 2001 said, 'the environment is everybody's business'.
"The Waterwatch network provides an opportunity for every Australian to make caring for our unique environment their business," Dr Stone said.
The Waterwatch program equips local communities with the skills, knowledge and equipment required to take actively monitor what is going on in our rivers and streams.
Waterwatch groups have initiated many solutions to improve the water quality and health of our waterways, such as fencing riverbanks to help control stock access and erosion; removing litter from waterways; eradicating weeds and invasive species, like willows and reducing the volume of pesticides and pollutants that enter our waterways.
The conference, "Ripples and Reflections: Celebrating a decade of Waterwatch", brings together Waterwatchers from across the nation to build their skills and share their experiences and runs from July 8 to July 12.
For further information;
Simon Frost 0419 495 468
Tuesday July 8th, 2002