Baker Creek, near Tungkillo
2008 Aquatic Ecosystem Condition Report
- Affected by nutrient enrichment and fine sediment.
- Limited riparian zone invaded by weeds.
- Streambank severely eroded.
- Provides important refuge habitat for rare species of native fish.
- Site dry at time of inspection in spring 2008.
About the location
Baker Creek rises northeast of Tungkillo in the eastern Mount Lofty Ranges. It flows only occasionally, running southwest through agricultural land used for livestock grazing and cereal cropping before joining Harrison Creek to form Reedy Creek, south of Palmer. The site selected for monitoring was located in the mid-reaches of the creek, five kilometres south of Tungkillo, off Brinkworths Road.
The creek was given a Fair rating at this site because the ecosystem showed evidence of moderate changes to animal and plant life, and some changes to the way the ecosystem functions. Evidence confirmed nutrient enrichment and fine sediment are affecting the stream; and the riparian zone was limited.
The creek was dry when it was inspected in November 2008, although recent rain had formed very small pools among the bedrock outcrops at the monitoring site.
Patches of the aquatic plants Cumbungi (Typha domingensis), Spiny Sedge (Cyperus gymnocaulos) and knotweed (Persicaria) were growing in the channel. River Red Gum seedlings and dryland plants such as thistles and grasses were also found, highlighting a lack of water in the area in recent times.
Sediments in the channel ranged from aerobic sands at the margins to anaerobic and sulfidicsilts wherever water had tended to pool. The creekbanks were heavily eroded from slumping, occasional flood damage and livestock accessing the channel.
A narrow band of River Red Gums grew over introduced grasses and weeds such as Salvation Jane, gorse and thistles in the riparian zone. Cereal crops covered most of the surrounding area, with patches of River Red Gums near the creekline.
Special environmental features
Other parts of Baker Creek provide an important refuge habitat for a threatened species of native fish called Mountain Galaxias (Galaxias olidus).
Pressures and management responses
|Drought||The SA Murray-Darling Basin NRM Board is working with the Department for Water and the community to develop a water allocation plan and licensing system which aim to balance social, economic and environmental needs for water. The objective for providing water to the environment is to maintain and/or restore self-sustaining water-dependent ecosystems which are resilient in times of drought.|
|Livestock have direct access at the site and upstream, causing sediment erosion and adding excessive nutrients (which leads to habitat disturbance, algal growth and aquatic weeds).||The SA Murray-Darling Basin NRM Board acknowledges the significant impacts that livestock have on aquatic environments and seeks to provide free technical advice and incentives to land managers for fencing and other works as funding permits. Funding incentives are limited in value and extent and require land managers to volunteer to be involved.|
|Limited natural riparian vegetation at the site and upstream in the catchment, providing minimal buffer protection from catchment landuses (reducing habitat quality).||The SA Murray-Darling Basin NRM Board recognises that the management of riparian vegetation requires a long-term, integrated approach to achieve ecosystem benefits. The board therefore provides free technical advice on a range of topics for land managers and various incentives for works as funding permits.|