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Local students crawl the Williams River

More than 50 local school students and teachers will crawl their way along the Williams River this Thursday 6 June testing water quality and assessing the overall health of the river.

The Williams is a major source of drinking water for the lower Hunter region and maintaining its health is vital to the quality of local drinking supplies.

The students and teachers will join local experts on a day-long tour, taking in Chichester Dam, and sites at Dungog, Clarence Town and Seaham Weir.

Hunter Local Land Services School Engagement Officer, Jane Lloyd-Jones said the aim is to educate school students about the Williams River supply system and the issues involved in providing a safe and reliable water supply.

“Our drinking water makes a long journey to get to our homes,” said Ms Llloyd-Jones.

“Students will traverse the journey that their drinking water takes from the Williams River to the tap and in doing so, will learn about the importance of caring for, and protecting, our drinking water catchments.”

At Chichester Dam, students will learn about the role the dam plays in collecting drinking water and will test the water quality of the Williams River by dip netting for water bugs, which are natural indicators of water quality.

At Dungog, the students will meet local community members committed to improving the health of the river. Representatives from Sustaining Williams Valley Inc will show the students the riverbank restoration works they have undertaken next to the river and assist the students in undertaking a site and habitat assessment.

Thanks to support from the NPWS Discovery Rangers, students will also participate in an interactive aboriginal culture and heritage activity.

At Clarence Town the students will learn about the impacts of stormwater pollution on water quality and test the water for turbidity, salinity, pH and temperature. They will also have the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the animals living in the catchment, while learning about the pest animals that pose a threat to native and farm animals.

Finally, the students will travel to Seaham Weir which limits the upstream movement of tidal saltwater, where they will undertake a tour of the Weir.

“A safe and reliable water supply begins with a healthy catchment environment,” said John Simpson, Water Quality Scientist from Hunter Water.

“These students will get to observe the process involved in providing people with their drinking water and the importance of protecting water quality in the catchment.

“This Catchment Crawl will give local students a great hands-on learning opportunity that provides an insight into how they can help improve our catchment health and limit their impact on the local environment, our rivers and our drinking water sources.”

The Catchment Crawl is just one of several projects being undertaken as part of a program funded by Hunter Water and Hunter Catchment Contributions, and delivered to schools by Hunter Local Land Services.

Participating schools include Raymond Terrace Public School, Maitland Public School and Glen William Public School.