Protecting our bay and waterways can be as simple as people reducing their own environmental impact in the home and at work by recycling or using a rain tank, through to groups of volunteers coming together to protect and maintain our aquatic environments with revegetation or litter clean up days.
By recognising that we can achieve more by working together, we introduce the concept of environmental citizenship. Through strong environmental partnerships the Victorian Government aims to encourage a new sense of environmental citizenship, where communities take a more active and shared responsibility in efforts to support our environment. With all Victorians doing their part, we can better care for our bay and waterways.
What you can do around your home and workplace
Many people are unaware that their daily activities and behaviours have direct or indirect consequences on the health of our bay and waterways.
What might seem like a small bit of rubbish from a home or business may become a very serious problem when multiplied by every house in the community. Any rubbish not disposed of properly has the potential to be washed into the stormwater drainage system, which directly flows to our waterways.
Excessive amounts of stormwater can negatively impact aquatic organisms and water quality, leading to significant issues such as fish deaths, algal blooms and potential impacts to human health.
There are various things you can do around the home and business to reduce pollution and decrease the volume of stormwater rushing down into the drainage systems. The following provides further information about key initiatives:
How you can contribute within your community
You can contribute in many ways by planting native vegetation, participating in clean up days, helping to raise awareness, fundraising, donating or adopting an area to maintain its health. Further information is provided in the community group websites listed below.
What community organisations are there?
There are a number of local, state and national not-for-profit community groups and organisations all working towards protecting the health of our bay and waterways.
Local groups include:
- Dolphin Research Institute is a not-for-profit, community-based organisation. Working towards the wellbeing of dolphins and the marine environment. They rely largely on support from the community to maintain their important work.
- Friends of Darebin Creek is a group committed to restore and conserve the Darebin Creek and the adjacent parkland. Volunteers are encouraged to get involved, expertise isn’t essential, just an interest in the Darebin Creek and its protection for environmental and recreational use.
- Friends of Kororoit Creek are an active group of volunteers working on a range of activities which aim to improve the health of the creek and its surrounds. The group welcomes new members to get involved and learn more about the plants, animals and issues that affect the Kororoit Creek.
- Friends of the Maribyrnong Valley preserve places from residential and commercial encroachment for relaxation and recreation, including fishing, walking, jogging, bird observing and cycling. Those interested in helping the preservation and improvement of the Maribyrnong Valley can be involved in regular revegetation and conservation activities.
- Friends of Werribee River is a community-based interest group that endeavours to preserve and improve the Werribee River. They welcome people to join a whole range of enjoyable activities.
- Merri Creek Management Committee is an environmental coordination and management group formed to achieve a shared vision for the natural and cultural protection of the Merri Creek Catchment. Refer to their website for ways to get involved.
- Port Phillip Eco Centre is a not-for-profit environmental group involved in a range of activities that promote biodiversity, environmental sustainability and community action. They encourage people to register as volunteers on their website, as there are many different opportunities.
- Yarra Riverkeeper Association is a not-for-profit community organisation formed by a group of citizens who protect and restore the Yarra River and its tributaries. There are volunteering opportunities or donations can be made by visiting their website.
For further information about other local groups near you visit Victorian Landcare Gateway or contact your local council.
State wide groups include:
- Keep Victoria Beautiful ‘Adopt a Roadside’ program aims to reduce litter on Victoria's roadsides, stop pollutants from entering local waterways and improve the quality of vegetation. Volunteers help remove roadside litter and/or undertake revegetation works including the removal of weeds.
- NatureWatch is run by Victoria National Parks Association. The program monitors and provides input to park management and planning. Volunteers just need an interest in the natural environment and be ready to learn.
- Reef Watch Victoria is a community-led volunteer program that coordinates a number of marine conservation programs. If you want to learn more about your local marine habitat and assist in protecting our natural heritage, then register to become a Reef Watch Volunteer.
- Waterwatch is a community engagement program connecting local communities with river health and sustainable water management issues. There are many different ways that you can volunteer your time, energy and enthusiasm with Waterwatch.
- Volunteer with Parks Victoria get involved as a volunteer to protect our natural environment by calling 13 1963.
National groups include:
- Clean Up Australia works with communities to clean up, fix up and conserve our natural environment. There are various ways to participate in campaigns, donate or become a volunteer.
- Conservation Volunteers Australia welcomes people with a love of the outdoors and interest in the environment to get involved. Volunteers include students, professionals, international visitors and retirees.
- Redmap (Range Extension Database and Mapping project) invites Australians to share sightings of marine species that are ‘uncommon’ to their local seas. Over time, Redmap will use this ‘citizen science’ data to map which Australian marine species may be extending their distribution range in response to changes in the marine environment.
How can you report pollution or illegal dumping activity?
Call EPA’s 24 hour Pollution Hotline (1300 EPA VIC) to report:
- fish deaths or waterway contamination
- discolored water or floating slicks
- people who litter from motor vehicles (or EPA Victoria’s website)
- pollution; providing information that includes:
- time of the event
- whether you’ve seen it before
- what you can see, smell
- location and your contact details.
Reporting other incidents:
If you suspect you have seen a marine pest, please contact the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) customer service centre (136 186)
Fish farmers must notify the relevant authorities (office of the Chief Veterinary Officer, Agriculture Victoria) if livestock are suspected of being diseased.
Oil or chemical pollution
Report to the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources if pollution is being discharged into the water from any vessel, facility or land based source, or if you notice oil or chemical pollution into Port Phillip Bay. The 24-hour hotline is (03) 9644 9777.