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The Swan River The rivers begins as three major tributaries; the Avon River, the Canning River and the Helena River, coming together on the edge of the Darling Scarp to form the Swan River estuary near the state capital Perth meandering over 280 km to the port of Fremantle on the Indian Ocean. The slow-moving river system drains a catchment area of about 128 000 km2 of which the Swan Avon is 126 000 km2 of mostly agricultural land and the rest, the relatively small, Swan Canning is 2 000 km2 of mostly agricultural and urban areas. The river system straddles two distinct regions; a region to the east of the Darling Scarp which runs north and south, about 17 km east of Perth, which to the east has clayey soils that tends to hold fertiliser nutrients and receives less rainfall, and the sandy soils region that comprises the coastal plain to the west of the escarpment. These sandy soils more readily release the fertiliser nutrients into waterways. The climate of the catchment is Mediterranean, with mild wet winters and hot dry summers, representing highly seasonal rainfall and flow regime of its waterways during the winter months. The government legislation has chosen to exclude the Swan Avon rivers from the administration of the authorities responsible for the rivers though it is not only 13 times larger in catchment area, it represents around one-half of all the fertiliser pollutants entering the Swan river. Without therefore being able to evaluate the Swan Avon the declared “hot spot”, of agricultural lands is associated with the Swan Canning that includes a significant proportion of “lifestyle farms” closer to the urban areas to the north of Perth, on the sandy plain. Over the last one and a half centuries since the colonisation in 1829, land use has been felt by this river system making it vulnerable to a number of key environmental issues including nutrient loading, algal blooms, drainage from acid sulphate soils, fish kills, loss of habitat, invasive species, erosion due to boat wakes, dredging and more recently, by a dramatically reduced water flow due to reduced rainfall. Before colonisation in 1829. The Nyoongar indigenous people were the traditional owners and custodians of the Swan River region who called Western Australia’s Swan River, the Derbal Yerrigan which means “brackish place of the turtle”. It was considered to have formed by the Wagyl – a snakelike being from their Dreamtime that meandered over the land creating rivers, lakes and valleys as they made their way to the mouth of the river at Fremantle. The Noongar people would have seen periods of climate change and sea level rises living in harmony with their land and waters, firing the bush, crossing the river, camping along the River banks, getting water from springs, and hunting and fishing. The original inhabitants declare they feel a responsibility to protect and care for the land and its waters as an integral part of their spirit and culture for more than 40 000 years before the arrival of the British colonialists in 1829. From 1829 Since 1880, a half century after the region’s colonisation, river health was has been of concern with the river having been used as a “depository for filth of every kind”. In the 1940s waste from a sewerage treatment plant and urban drains caused algal blooms and noxious odours. In 1958, in response to the declining condition of the river system, a legislative framework was created as the Swan River Conservation Act of 1958 to make “new provision for maintaining and improving the condition of the waters and of the foreshores of the Swan River”.  
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