Laratinga Wetlands is the District's 'jewel in the crown' – winner of several awards, including the United Nations Association of Australia World Environment Day Award.
The Laratinga Wetlands, constructed in 1999, is a Mount Barker District Council development, located in Mount Barker in the beautiful Adelaide Hills of South Australia.
With a growing population, the disposal of treated water became a concern to Council in 1993. For many years the treated water flowed into the Mount Barker Creek and the impact on the ecology of the creek was becoming an issue. Upgrading of the waste water treatment plant began in the late 1990s and included plans to build the large artificial wetland to filter the water further and reuse it for local irrigators, parks and gardens. Effluent from nearby Nairne is now being pumped to the Mount Barker Community Wastewater treatment plant and through the wetland, bypassing the Nairne oxidation lagoons. This is having obvious benefits on the health of the Nairne Creek.
The wetland has taken several years to resemble a natural ecosystem. Landscaping design with the use of indigenous plant species has encouraged birds to utilise the wetland. Migrating birds utilise the safe island habitats. A food forest for Cockatoos has encouraged Cockatoos including the Yellow Tail Black Cockatoo back to the area.
Laratinga (Lartingga-parri) Wetland
Laratinga (Lartingga-parri) Wetland was named after the Peramangk meaning for Mount Barker Creek, “Flooding Land Creek” (Ivan Copley). The wetland and surrounds, has become an increasingly important area for locals, visitors and native wildlife.
A biodiversity assessment has revealed that four frog species are confirmed from Laratinga Reserve with an additional four species within 10km of the site. Approximately 153 bird species have been recorded by local bird watchers, with up to 61 species present at any one time, some with State, Regional and International significance, such as the Latham Snipe.
The vulnerable Blue-Billed Duck has bred at Laratinga in the past couple of years along with numerous Little Pied cormorants nesting on the one of the islands.
The Common Brushtail Possum and Common Ringtail Possum are regulars at the site. At least eight species of microbat have been identified. The common long neck tortoise is also commonly seen sun bathing on logs, particularly in Basin 2.
A semi-permanent wetland
Historically, Laratinga Wetland has been managed as a semi-permanent wetland with water levels fluctuating in response to inflow management, rainfall and irrigation use. The watering allocation and regime to the wetland has changed as of late 2011. A suitable ecological watering regime has been developed based on the ecological units found as a part of the biodiversity assessment.
While such a change in water regime is beneficial over the longer term, these changes will allow for the system to adapt and develop resilience to a more variable watering regime, mimicking more of a natural system. The result should lead to a healthier biodiversity in the area and better water quality.
Seasonal drying and re-wetting of the mudflats is a desirable feature. The reduced water level over the warmer months aids adaptation and the ecological health of the various species that inhabit and migrate to the wetland. Click here for more on the ecological management of the wetland.
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To book a group tour, contact Emma Montgomery, Environmental Project Officer on 8391 7217 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Location: Corner of Springs Road and Bald Hills Road, Mount Barker, South Australia
Elevation: 310 metres
Area: Total area of 16.7 ha (10.7 ha underwater)
Wetland Type: Storage basin/sedimentary pond to remove nutrients from the treated water from the adjoining Community Waste Water Management System (CWMS) Treatment Plant.