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RiverWise behaviour change program launches in Bennett Springs

Bennett Springs resident with garden advisor The Swan River Trust has launched an innovative program to help home owners and businesses change how they use fertilisers and reduce damaging nutrients entering the Swan and Canning rivers.

Launching the RiverWise Bennett Springs behaviour change program, the Trust has revealed a series of free initiatives including personal home coaching visits, fertiliser swap-meets, a RiverWise garden competition, and a plan to work with businesses to promote RiverWise gardening products. 

Swan River Trust Community Engagement Manager Jason Menzies said it was critical that residents across the Swan Canning catchment realise home fertiliser use was a major source of nitrogen and phosphorus contamination in Perth’s rivers. 

“That kind of contamination damages water quality and can lead to algal blooms and low dissolved oxygen levels that can affect fish and other animals,” Mr Menzies said. “Long-term water quality monitoring around the Bennett Springs estate has revealed significant fertiliser contamination in near-by Bennett Brook, that’s why we have prioritised the suburb for this 12-month trial.” 

“As the city and surrounding suburbs grow, there’s an urgent need to change the way communities and businesses use fertilisers.”

“We have been researching and developing this program with input from some of the best scientific, educational and community engagement leaders in the State. Our goal was to create a practical, user friendly behaviour change program for local residents.”

Joining forces with the City of Swan, Department of Water, and the Bennett Springs community, the Trust through the Great Gardens expert team, will conduct a one year pilot program providing local home owners with free, personalised garden advice service.

The behaviour change initiative will also offer a fertiliser swap to exchange harmful fertilisers with more environmentally friendly products and an education strategy for local businesses and schools to adopt more sustainable RiverWise gardening practices.

“We don’t want people to feel overwhelmed or be out of pocket for doing the right thing, so we have put a lot of time and effort into developing a program that is cheap, easy and practical,” Mr Menzies said. “By making the changes simple and providing free hands-on face to face service and advice, we are confident homeowners and businesses will be inspired to change their behaviour.”

The Bennett Springs estate was established in 1999 and now boasts more than 1600 houses, an 8000 m2  shopping complex, and several schools.

“It’s a great community in a beautiful spot, and through this tailored behaviour change program government, industry and the community will work together to ensure it stays that way,” Mr Menzies said.

The Behaviour Change Strategy is a key project under the Trust’s River Guardians program that was established in 2008 to help Perth communities participate in free RiverWise activities and events.

For more information, people are invited to visit www.riverguardians.com, or call Swan River Trust Community Engagement Manager Jason Menzies on 0428 206 133.

MEDIA CONTACT:  Carolyn Bertram 9278 0916 or 0434 603 684