Stream tales

Midsummer blues (or browns)

Since October last year I have been concerned about the new dams built upstream from us in Grimwade Road, Balingup. It was apparent that there were changes to the way the stream flowed as it left the property on which the dams were built and made its way to the properties below, including mine which I call Montaza.

The rate of flow in the watercourse at my place was considerably less than in previous years at the same time of year and there was a lower response to the smaller rainfall events probably because the dam water levels would need to reach a certain height before the water spilled over.

I decided to document the changes with that useful tool, the iPhone. The resolution is better than the digital camera I bought several years ago and the images transfer automatically to my computer.  Easy!

Here are a couple of sample records of the health of the watercourse in January this year, 2018.

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This image taken on 10 January 2018 shows part of the lower pond at my place, Montaza. It’s of a bay in the stream not quite on the main channel. Here the water has become stagnant because of the very low rate of flow. Leaves are almost stationary on the surface, scum has formed and bubbles suggesting lack of oxygen are on the surface. It looks very  off-putting. This is unprecedented since I bought the property in 2006.

The video of the lower pond was taken on the same day and shows just how unattractive the stream had become with its stagnant, slow moving current that allows debris to build up. A faster rate of flow would improve oxygenation and carry away surface material.

Over the entire warmer weather months we experienced the side-effects of the lower rates of flow, ie scum build up, high sediment levels and other forms of pollution.

Heavy rain brought some relief. There were several occasions when water was released suddenly because heavy rain was forecast and there were possibly concerns about the dam walls breaching. Some of this water may have been from the bottom of the dams which would be low in oxygen with rotting vegetation.

In the early hours of 25 May we received heavy rain and with the cooler weather the rate of flow increased. Cooler water temperatures also meant that algal blooms were reduced and the clarity of the water improved. Will there be an improvement in water conditions by next October when the warmer conditions return? We don’t know.

Most of the powers-that-be seem unable or unwilling to assist. Shire, state government agencies, politicians and other bodies have all been approached, but we’re still short of a solution.

All in all an unsatisfactory situation especially as there seems to be no way of achieving a round-table discussion with all parties, nor having anything like a management plan in place between us downstream landowners and the owners of the dams property.

Footnote: The banner photo at top is of the stream at Montaza taken in July 2006. I call the area near the handrail and steps up the hill The Knoll. Rhododendrons are now planted there. It had been very cold that year and some plants were damaged by frost. The steps are still in place and the handrail is about to be restored. Although we had very late rains that year, the stream was still flowing, clear and healthy.

House for sale – location, location

Retro-styled house in town with views.

The house is for sale from Ray White in Balingup, 9764 1139 or 0429 976 412.

Ray White Balingup

The price is $375,000. The house has been fully renovated to high quality standards. It was intended that it be the eventual home for the owners, but who have now decided not to move from their current property, a little out of town.

The house is ready to move into. There is scope for a wing, perhaps a pavilion, to be added.

The location is excellent. A place in the country but with up to date amenities, walking distance of the coffee shops, a quiet spot and magnificent views to the hills.

North-facing it is sited to be sheltered from the cold, winter winds from the south east and to make the most of the winter sun.

It is handy to the South Western Highway which from here is a two and a half hour drive to Perth.

It has two bedrooms and a compact ‘den’ that could be an office or study. There is a garage and the opportunity and space to build an additional garage or shed.

The house has a new roof, gutters, exterior walls with insulation, new bathroom and laundry wing, polished jarrah boards, new lights, painted throughout.  Fine furniture maker of Bridgetown, Glen Holst, has made the benches for the kitchen, laundry and bathroom.

Extensive outside hard landscaping with back courtyard created and a terraced back area west of the house. New septic tanks and long leach drains that look as though they could service a small hotel. New air conditioning and wood heater in lounge plus a Metters stove in the kitchen, and a new gas stove and dish washer.

All on a block of 2431sqm i.e. over half an acre in the old language. The block goes down a slope to the winter creek that enters the Balingup Brook.

There is excellent Mobile coverage as the tower is in sight about 1.5 km away. NBN can be readily connected via Fixed Wireless Broadband which would receive signals from the same tower.

Here is the house in the context of its surroundings.

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The house at 8 Roberts Street in Balingup was originally built for the Town Clerk of the Balingup Roads Board in the mid-20th Century. It is of fibro-timber construction with high ceilings and jarrah floors.

The town centre with its coffee shops is only some 200m away. The Balingup General Store is literally around the corner. Whilst the South Western Highway is only about 100m away, the house is well screened from view and the sound of traffic is muted.

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A large Mediterranean Oak on the verge provides summer shade to the back courtyard in the morning. The tree loses its leaves in winter.

 

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St Peter’s is a charming old church that is still being used by a small congregation. In the foreground is a Western Power pillar. Power was put underground from across the road a few years ago.

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Here are the front steps up to the veranda which has jarrah floorboards. It has magnificent views to the countryside. The veranda is well-positioned to catch the winter sun.

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From the front there is another path to the back courtyard.

Here are scenes from the interior of the house: the lounge, bedrooms, kitchen and bathroom.

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The bathroom and laundry are new having been built as a new wing. The heat exchange type of HWS is shown here next to the bathroom. There are two toilets, one in the bathroom and another separate one off the laundry.

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The veranda has views to the Park and to the north and west.

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From the veranda looking to the north.

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North of the house and down the hill is the Balingup Town Hall. There are sweeping views from the house to the hills north and west of the town. Note the mobile tower toward the top left on the horizon.

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From the front lawn looking west taken in late May 2018 with a pear tree in full autumn colour. Behind the small sheds there is a 23,000l tank set up to collect rainwater and provide water for a reticulation system. A controller and solenoids are in place. There is power to the pump at the tank which also has a standpipe for firefighting purposes. The sheds have seen better days but handy for storing wood or could be replaced with something more substantial.