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Sustainability Programs In The Shire Of Northam

The Shire of Northam has a number of environmental programs, some of which have existed for a number of years, and others that have been added to relatively recently.  As part of its Plan for the Future, Council has included consideration for the care for our natural environment, which is a major attraction for Northam and the Avon Valley, and part of our community’s livelihood.

Direct activities and projects undertaken by the Shire, as well as within existing programs and approval of new developments, take into account the impact on the environment.

Ongoing delivery of services and activities assist to meet sustainable objectives

  • Maintenance and beautification of parks and reserves
  • Improvement of drainage associated with road networks
  • Rubbish and litter removal
  • Recycling drop-off facilities for Residential properties which hold a tip pass.
  •  A new recycling station is now located at the Shire of Northam Administration Office for printer cartridges, household batteries, mobile phones and mercury containing fluroscent light globles and tubes only.
  • Recycling programs at the Shire’s Waste Management Facilities including scrap steel, DrumMuster, waste oil, tyres, and mulching.
  • Management of the Town Pool (Avon River between the Avon Bridge & Weir)
  • Purchase of several energy efficient vehicles
  • Purchasing of a significant portion of ‘green power’
  • Installation of rain water tanks on selected Shire buildings
  • Sustainable design of new buildings
  • All new housing approvals to consider sustainability – energy efficient design, asbestos removal before relocation of 2nd hand buildings.
  • Approval of grey water recycling systems
  • Kerbside rubbish & recycling

Specific projects have included

  • Installation of five new aerators in the Town Pool (2009)
  • Replacement of the light fittings in the Shire of Northam Administration Building with energy efficient fittings (2010)
  • Remediation of the old Brabazon House Site, Fitzgerald Street Northam (2008)
  • Installation of a liner in the Wundowie Dam to improve wastewater reuse on the Wundowie Oval, and eliminate the need to pump from the river (2007)
  • Completion of Strategic Waste Minimisation Plan (Avon Group of Councils), Old Quarry Road Waste Management Facility Plan and Inkpen Road Waste Management Facility Plan (2008)

Future projects in the foreseeable future include

  •  Increased recycling programs at the Shire’s Waste Management Facilities to include e-waste, fluorescent lights, and crushing of building rubble
  • Extension of the wastewater reuse scheme to the Golf Club
  • Dredging of the Town Pool (Avon River)

The Shire of Northam is supportive of its residents undertaking sustainability measures, with numerous examples evident in the Shire of private ventures.  Examples include the installation of solar panels including solar hot water systems, insulation, water saving devices & gardens, composting bins, and walking. 

An excellent website that gives example of what residents can do to live greener, including relevant rebates, can be found at: http://www.livinggreener.gov.au/.

Floating Island Project

Description

The island is constructed out of fibre reinforced plastics, coloured and treated to represent local river sand,  covers 140 square metres and consists of 33 individual modules in 11 rows of 3 with two joins on each adjoining edge.  Each module is capable of taking approx 800kg.  The joins allow limited articulation in all directions with each join being secured with 3 heavy duty UV resistant cable ties.  It is anchored with four concrete anchors each weighing approx 200kg with sufficient play to allow for 2-3 metres rise in water levels. Polypropylene anchor ropes are 12mm in diameter with a breaking strain of several tonnes.

IN THE EVENT OF AN EXPECTED RISE IN WATER LEVELS GREATER THAN 3 METRES ABOVE THE LEVEL OF THE WEIR IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT ANCHORAGE BE ALTERED TO ALLOW FOR EXTRA MOVEMENT AND STRONGER WATER FLOWS

Vegetation

There are approx 400 plants native to the Avon River in experimental plantings on the islands consisting of 14 different species.  They will be monitored and replaced if necessary for up to 12 months once installation is complete.  The Avon Valley Environmental Society will continue monitoring for an unspecified period beyond the 12 months.

Plants used to date are

  • Melaleuca species (9) with the most common being M. rhafiophylla
  • Sporobolus virginicus (Native couch)
  • Enchylaena tomentosa (Ruby saltbush)
  • Juncus kraussii (Shore rush)
  • Cyperus gymnocaulus (Spiny flat sedge)
  • Frankenia pauciflora (Sea heath)

Birds

There has been a deliberate attempt to attract birds to the islands and to date 4 species have been seen using the islands with one – Eurasian Coote (Fulica atra) – already nesting.  The surface of the islands has a sand finish, is uneven and undulating thereby creating small hollows that in time are expected to collect soil, rain water and guano creating micro ecosystems that will attract alga, mosses and lichens.

Impact on the river

There will be improved habitat for birds and visual amenity as the plants develop.  The plants will also absorb nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus which can cause problems if present in excess.  The roots of the plants will hang in the water and create a nursery for fish species and habitat for macroinvertabrae.  The structure itself will shade the water and lower temperatures.

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