Sunday, 2 June 2013

Heavy Rains

Darebin Falcons sports ground fence; tide mark.
Mostly leaves.

On Friday night (May 31st) it rained and rained. It was the kind of downpour that leads one to wonder at the dryness of houses. It is pleasant to be within four walls listening to the wet and thunder outside.  The hammering rain lasted all night so naturally I woke yesterday morning thinking of nothing but the creek.

Usually the creek is only just visible from here.

At about 9.30am I ventured down in my wellies. It wasn’t cold, but was still gently drizzling. I wanted to see how much gutter runoff and storm water was flowing in the creek. Clearly it had reached its peak during the night and had receded well below the high water mark. The usual throng of purposeful creek goers (dog walkers, cyclists) was replaced by small groups of people milling about; quietly observing traces of the storm. Phones were quietly snapping and little children, tempted by the sea of water, hesitantly navigated its edges.

The Creek flows to the left of the power pylon.
The stillness was marked. People had come to stop and look. The creek had changed, suddenly and not forever it was high and fast flowing. This had happened while we slept. If we had come in the darkness, we would have heard and felt the water. Who would abandon the warmth of their bed and dry house to see the water level rise? But now, here we were, witnessing the mystery of the creek, transformed without human witness.

High water mark, 5.5m (South of Harding St Bridge).

But really, did it change itself? The way in which the creek floods in 2013 is so different to how it overflowed 200 years ago. The channel will (in parts) be deepened, rather than the wetness stretching out into swamps and wetlands. The dykes and ridges built to protect our homes stops the water moving where it once did, and the storm water drains and hard surfaces of our roads and footpaths sends as much water as it can straight to the creek. Have the platypus learnt to build their tunnels higher into the banks to avoid inundation in this new landscape? What other animals find this new fierce flow an impediment?

Water flowing over the path from Strettle Wetlands to the creek.
Polystyrene debris gathers and floats to the surface.
As the water continues to recede the rubbish and tree branches swept along will be revealed. The trees will display their new plastic adornments, all brushed and wrapped in a downstream sweep.

Friends of Merri Creek site, Poa brushed by the water.

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