Geographical And Ecological Features
Geology and Soils
Broad flat valley/floodplain with slopes on Northern Side with the Mt Barker Creek meandering along the Southern boundary of the wetland site.
Loam soil: PH ranges from 5-8.
River Red Gum Eucalyptus camaldulensis with grassy understorey.
South facing slopes running onto southerly floodplains draining from north and south then along river due east.
The Mount Barker area experiences cool wet winters and hot, mostly dry summers. The mean annual rainfall for the township of Mount Barker in the last 20 years is 718.8mm, with 2010 being a wet year with annual rainfall reaching 844.3mm.
Within the broader Hahndorf IBRA Environmental Association, the mean annual rainfall ranges from 600mm to 1000mm, with a mean annual evaporation of 1800mm.
The mean maximum monthly temperature ranges from 12.9 C in July to 27.2 C in January. The mean minimum monthly temperature ranges from 4.9 C in July to 11.8 C in January and February. Temperatures range between -5.6 C during the winter months to 44.5 C during the summer months.
Wetland Hydrological Features
Water from the Mount Barker Effluent Treatment Plant supplies the Laratinga Wetland.
The wetland is designed to mimic a natural wetland. All plant species propagated and planted on site are indigenous. A variety of indigenous fauna call Laratinga home including migratory birds, amphibians and reptiles. The Wetland contains two bird islands to protect birds and their young from predators such as cats. These islands are planted to provide ideal habitat for birds.
A unique feature of the wetland is the capability to manipulate water levels in basins individually, so that managers can create an artificial flood or drought, which is fundamentally important for triggering reproduction in many species of native flora and fauna. It is also believed that manipulating flows through wetlands discourages pest plants and animals which thrive in stable water conditions.
Each basin is designed to dry to small pools, and edge slopes provide ideal habitat for many species of aquatic plants.
As well as providing ideal habitat for many species of native plants and animals, the wetland further reduces nutrients including phosphorus and nitrates from the treated effluent water. With the diversion of the high volume of treated effluent water through the wetland instead of straight into the Mt Barker Creek, the creek has returned to its natural ephemeral state of flowing in winter and drying to pools in summer.