Better Bay Water Quality

Marine snail on mangrove. Image: Julian Finn, Museums Victoria

Better Bay Water Quality


The health of the estuaries directly impacts the health of our bays. This thought alone can be daunting, but dedicated community groups are acting to create positive change.

The Balcombe Estuary Reserve is the largest, most intact estuary on Port Phillip Bay’s east side. It’s home to the Balcombe Estuary Reserves Group (BERG) in Mt Martha, which formed to preserve and restore the bushland and improve the quality of water that enters the bay.


The BERG identified several threats to the quality of water around the reserves, including a decline and degradation of the surrounding vegetation, rubbish deposited in and around the estuary, erosion caused by roaming dogs, habitat degradation and pollution from droppings, and a lack of community awareness and response.


Using the physical surrounds as evidence, the BERG implemented solutions to address each problem at its core, including:

  • coordinating community working bees to combat weeds
  • initiating a dedicated community awareness campaign that coordinates and supervises group action activities, such as training volunteers, preparing signage, generating publicity, participating in Clean Up Australia Day, and reaching out to the local schools
  • partnering with a local nursery that promised to supply native seeds for propagation
  • identifying indigenous foliage for revegetation, and[i]
  • leveraging participation in the complementary Waterwatch and EstuaryWatch programs.

The group was also dedicated to improving regeneration and revegetation of the riparian and adjoining areas of bushland of Balcombe Creek and its tributaries. This will improve the run-off and consequent water quality levels.


Water quality at the reserve is steadily improving: phosphates have reduced, upstream turbidity has improved, and the number of macroinvertebrates in the creek is high: these are all good indicators.

The BERG Mt Martha demonstrates the power of community. If you would like to volunteer or learn more about the work of the BERG, please visit