Palyku Healthy Water Program: Palyku’s Aboriginal Rangers to become water quality specialists

Palyku Elders and senior people have reported a decline in the condition of important water places across Palyku country. The Palyku rangers, in collaboration with our environmental specialists, have been working to assess samples of these places for water health, so we can continue to monitor them for future protection, and provide a sustainable income for people living on country.

As part of a pilot program we accompanied the rangers to remote Pilbara pools and springs over multiple trips, where the rangers assessed the conditions and health of important water places. They tested and assessed soil, pH levels, temperature and other parameters using modern water monitoring technologies.

Rising early each day, the team headed out to set up the ‘bush lab’, conducting site inspections, sampling water quality and recording results.  Elders and senior rangers who know the country provided oversight, leadership and traditional ecological knowledge for each place.

The data collected by the Palyku rangers will be analysed and fed into a Palyku water quality database. This will inform a future monitoring program, where the rangers will assess for changes (over time) as well as guide management actions for protection.

These activities tie into the rangers’ ongoing accredited training in Certificate III in Aboriginal Sites Work and Certificate III in Conservation and Land Management. Data sharing with Department of Water and Environmental Regulation has occurred to date to ensure culturally appropriate protection the water places occurs.  This will encourage positive stakeholder relationships and future collaborations.

We will continue working with the Palyku rangers in 2021, building their skills and capacity as water specialists for the management and protection of Palyku’s water places.