Jacksons Creek

By investigating the impact of the discharge from a recycled water plant on Jacksons Creek’s ecosystems, CAPIM helped identify the most effective actions to improve the ecological health of the whole catchment.

The Jacksons Creek Study, an example of a catchment affected by multiple stressors, upstream and downstream of a recycled water discharge.
Schematic of the Upper Jacksons Creek catchment. Credit: Dave Sharley.

Jacksons Creek

What was the problem?

CAPIM were commissioned by Western Water, in conjunction with Smart Water as a Carlton Connect initiative, to investigate whether the discharge from the Gisborne Recycled Water Plant (RWP) was impairing aquatic ecosystems within Jacksons Creek.

How did CAPIM address it?

Using a weight of evidence approach, we were able to identify various sources of pollution and key stressors in the catchment and link these to biological impacts such as increased toxicity and rates of deformities, elevated detoxification responses and changes in survival, reproduction and development in various taxa. Stressors were assessed considering the beneficial impacts (i.e. maintenance of environmental flows) and the harmful impacts (i.e. introduction of pollutants) of the recycled water discharges.

What was the outcome?

We concluded that while the RWP discharge contributes nutrients and other pollutants to Jacksons Creek, other stressors from different sources are likely to have greater impacts on ecological health. This approach enabled us to identify priority actions to be implemented in order to improve the ecological health of the whole catchment, rather than only the discharge receiving environment.

This study was funded through Smartwater, Western Water and the University of Melbourne, through the Carlton Connect Initiative. For more information on this study, please contact Dr Kathryn Hassell khassell@unimelb.edu.au.