Situated on the outskirts of Busselton, the Vasse-Wonnerup estuary is recognised as one of the most important areas in the state for waterbird habitat. More than 30,000 waterbirds visit the estuary each year, including a range of migratory species. This important role as waterbird habitat led to the Vasse Wonnerup being listed as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention in 1990.
Despite the estuary’s significant natural values, the Vasse-Wonnerup can suffer from water quality problems in the warmer months including algal blooms and fish deaths. These are largely a result of nutrient enrichment, leading to favourable conditions for algal growth and often low oxygen conditions that can affect fish health.
Following ongoing concern from the community about water quality issues, the state government established the Vasse Taskforce in October 2014 to tackle water quality problems in the Vasse-Wonnerup and surrounding areas. The initiative, called Revitalising Geographe Waterways is providing $7.15 million from Royalties for Regions to implement priority projects.
An additional half a million dollars is being made available from the Regional Estuaries Initiative to the Vasse-Wonnerup.
Revitalising Geographe Waterways has already begun significant work which fits within the framework of the Regional Estuaries Initiative including:
- Reducing nutrients from significant sources in the catchment through fertiliser management, dairy effluent upgrades, riparian management, soil amendment trials and urban nutrient management
- Increasing monitoring and modelling of the Vasse-Wonnerup and its catchments
- Exploring innovative ways of improving water quality including reconnecting rivers and water treatment trials
- Developing a water management plan for the Vasse-Wonnerup and other priority assets
- Using a collaborative approach to ensure scientists, managers, industry and the community are working together
- Investigating options for future funding and governance for management of the Vasse-Wonnerup and wider catchment.
The additional investment from the Regional Estuaries Initiative will enable the integration of excellent work happening by the Vasse Taskforce as part of Revitalising Geographe Waterways.