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Water monitor retires

WEIR OUT: retired Jeparit Waterwatch volunteer Col Clee points out white slime forming on a black Wimmera River downstream of Jeparit Weir. Further upstream the water is green.

Long-time volunteer water monitor Col Clee has finally put away his sample kit after years of observing and measuring changes in the Wimmera River at Jeparit.
Mr Clee, in his 80s, has retired from Jeparit Waterwatch, a Wimmera Community Waterwatch group he helped establish in May 1995.
On announcing his retirement from the program, which operates through Wimmera Catchment Management Authority, he reflected on vast changes in the Wimmera River during the 14 and a half years he had been involved in monitoring.
“What a sad sight this is,” he said as he surveyed an inky black Wimmera River below Jeparit Weir.
Mr Clee had been at the site countless times during his life and more than 150 times as a monthly Jeparit Waterwatch monitor. He had seen the many wet and dry moods of this stretch of the river.
In the last couple of years, Mr Clee has often seen the colour of river water turn green, pink and orange and this was the second time it had turned black in a year. The colours reflect the presence of various levels of algae, bacteria, sediment and organic material in the water.
Mr Clee said the last time he had seen the river a healthy brown was in October 1996 when floodwater travelled from the upper catchment through to Lakes Hindmarsh and Albacutya.
He had also seen previous floods and had helped with flood-mitigation work. In 1956 he helped build a levee around Jeparit and in 1974 helped stabilise the river bank against erosion below the weir. He had also seen Lake Hindmarsh dry in 2000 and a mass of carp seething and gasping for oxygen in the river.
Mr Clee was one of the Wimmera’s first Waterwatch volunteers. Since 1995, almost every month, Col has collected river water samples from the Old Traffic Bridge and weir sites and helped test the eight samples members brought to Jeparit museum. He was also involved in other Jeparit Waterwatch activities.
Wimmera Community Waterwatch coordinator Jeanie Clare said Col’s contribution would be greatly missed.
“Col has been a reliable monitor for so long, it is sad to see him go. But he is retiring for family reasons. We wish him well in the future and hope to see him from time to time visiting us on his motor scooter,” she said.
Ms Clark said Jeparit Waterwatch would welcome anyone keen to join the group and help monitor the condition of the river. The group meets at the museum on second Wednesdays of the month at 10am.

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Posted on Apr 29 2009

Posted by on Apr 29 2009. Filed under Community. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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