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River & Waterways

eDNA Biological Survey of Waterways

Beginning in late-March 2024, City of Parramatta will be working with specialist consultants to undertake a biological survey of waterways within the Parramatta Local Government Area (LGA). 

The survey will be one of the first run by a NSW Council to use a new technique called Environmental DNA or eDNA – essentially a forensic investigation of plant and animal DNA sampling and matching genetic material that has washed into creeks and rivers. Using eDNA could allow hundreds of species to be identified.

The study will focus on 20 locations, and will look at water flow, along with pH, dissolved oxygen, temperature, salinity, bacteria, fish, algae, plants, and insects. The study will compare results with those of similar surveys carried out in 2010 and 2018.

Sampling results will help identify the presence of endangered species, which could lead to protective measures to help support them, or, alternatively, help identify invasive species and allow for a program of management of plants or animals which have a negative impact on the local environment to be created.

Sampling will take place in April and October 2024, with the work contributing to creating a baseline snapshot of the biological health of our waterways. As the City of Parramatta continues to work towards rehabilitating the local environment, it is hoped that future studies will see improvement in water quality, biodiversity, and other waterway health markers.

How does eDNA work?

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All animals and plants shed fragments of their DNA into the environment, which is then washed into creeks and rivers.

A water sample is taken from the study site and taken to a laboratory where the DNA in the water is amplified millions of times. The DNA fragments are then entered into an animal and plant database and cross matched.

While eDNA will not tell us how many of each species are living in our environment, traditional survey techniques provide that information, it allows for a much more comprehensive identification of everything living in a catchment area.

Where will testing take place?

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Locations across the LGA will be tested with 20 individual sites to be studied:

Haslams Creek, Duck River, Parramatta River, Domain Creek, Finlayson Creek, Milson Park Wetland, Coopers Creek, Toongabbie Creek, Quarry Branch Creek, Darling Mills Creek, Lake Parramatta, Hunts Creek, Vineyard Creek, Subiaco Creek, Ponds Creek, Terrys Creek, Devlins Creek.

When will we have some results?

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We will share the results after the survey has finished in October 2024, but should anything interesting or unusual be discovered, we’ll be sure to share it with the community as soon as results are verified.

Contact us:

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For more information on the 2024 Biological Survey of Waterways, please contact Council’s Stormwater Management Coordinator by calling City of Parramatta’s Customer Contact Centre on 1300 617 058 or via email 

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