The former Parkes Sewage Treatment Plant effluent ponds will be transformed into a functional artificial wetland over the next two years, thanks to funding from the New South Wales Environmental Trust.

Council have commenced preliminary works at the former Parkes Sewage Treatment Plant effluent ponds site along Akuna Road, and will carry out earthworks and revegetation in 2020 and 2021 to convert the decommissioned ponds into a new wetland.

These works will create habitat for a range of water bird species and other animals, as well as create a natural area for the community to enjoy for passive recreational activities including birdwatching.

Parkes Shire Council's Director Infrastructure, Andrew Francis said "wetlands are considered one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems, containing a wide diversity of plant and animal life. They support plants that are found nowhere else, and are a haven for amphibians, reptiles, birds, insects, and mammals."

As natural wetlands in the Central West region are generally in a poor condition due to high levels of vegetation clearing, poor water quality, grazing and feral animals, artificial wetlands are an important habitat element in our landscape.

"Constructed wetlands are environmentally and economically valuable, and this new wetland is set to become a valuable asset for our Shire as it will enhance available waterbird habitat and create an inviting natural space for our community and visitors to enjoy," Andrew said.

The project will focus on construction of the wetland and revegetation with local native plants, with the creation of various wetland features to provide varying habitat elements to cater for different species. The wetland will receive recycled water from Parkes' Advanced Water Recycling Facility.

"Similar to natural wetlands, this wetland will not hold water year-round. Instead it will receive recycled water only when demand from our parks and sporting fields is low, more closely mimicking natural wet and dry cycles," Andrew added.

Volunteer support will be called upon to help plant some of the many thousands of wetland plants that will be required, with Council partnering with Central West Lachlan Landcare to host community planting days on site.

Chairperson for Central West Lachlan Landcare, Mr Ben Kerin said “Landcare are thrilled to be part of this wonderful project and are looking forward to partnering with Council to involve the community to assist with building habitat onsite”.

Additional funding will be sought by Council to make the wetland more accessible, inviting and educational, including walking tracks, seating, interpretive signage and bird hides.

This project has been assisted by the New South Wales Government through its Environmental Trust, whose Restoration and Rehabilitation program assists community and government organisations to contribute to the ongoing sustainable management and stewardship of significant environmental assets and services in NSW.