Avon river depth tested

Two third year UWA students travelled to Northam last week, to start a detailed depth survey of the Avon River Pool in Northam. 

The test is being undertaken to analyse the overall health of the river and see if it has been affected by the flooding earlier this year. 

Geographical science student Caitlin Smith and Environmental and Agriculture student Tom Gambuti said they suspect the flooding has damaged the health of the pool. 

“We suspect a lot of silt has built up in the river,” said Caitlin.

Tom said if this was the case, dredging may be required. “The magnitude of flooding would be increased as there is less space for the water to go,” he said.

Avon Valley Environmental Society secretary Peter Weatherley organised the experiment.

He said the depth of the water also correlates with its health. “The closer to the surface, the hotter the water is, and the more likely you are to get algae bloom,” he explained.

He said algae is good in small amounts only. The students travelled out on a boat, measuring the depth of various areas in the river, to detect changes.

The sample section was from The Northam Weir to Gairdner Street. The students only had time to sample a third of the section last week and will be back in following weeks to finish the whole section. 

He said the preliminary results show the river depth had not been affected.

The students get experience and we get the results

Avon Valley Environmental Society secretary Peter Weatherley

He said there will likely be changes at the untested part of the river, but warned this was only a hypothesis at best. 

Mr Weatherley said having the help of volunteers was extremely useful for the society. 

“We would not able to do it ourselves,” he said.

“We haven't got the time or the expertise. 

“It is great for the community.

“The students get experience and we get the results.”

In other news, The Avon Valley Environmental Society moved all the floating islands in the river back to their original positions last Friday.

The islands had uprooted and floated downstream to the weir during the flooding earlier this year. Mr Weatherley said the society will design a new anchoring system, to allow for the water levels to rise a lot higher so the anchors do not lift.