3.2 How we’ve changed the way rivers flow
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    HOW WE’VE CHANGED THE WAY RIVERS FLOW
Curriculum Alignment

ACT ELAs
1, 4, 8, 13, 20

NSW KLAs
Years K-6: Science and Technology, HSIE
Years 7-10: History, Science 
Years 11-12: Agriculture, Chemistry, Earth and Environmental Science, Geography, History, Society and Culture

QLD KLAs
SOSE, Science, Geography

SA ELs
Futures, Interdependence, Thinking

VELS
Science, Thinking Processes, Geography


Objectives
>Students examine the impacts European settlement has had on waterways
>Students gain an appreciation of the values held by various users of a typical waterway
>Students describe some of the effects human use of the waterway have had on plants and animals previously living in the area

Duration
1 hour 

Materials required
>River position cards (you will need to get the class to make these – see below for suggestions) 
>Copy of the Catchment Action Plan available from your local Catchment Management Authority or similar body

Background
Historic background on each river of the Murray-Darling Basin can be found by consulting the Catchment Management Authority (or Natural Resource Management Boards in South Australia) for your river system. Each of these organisations has a Catchment Action Plan available via their web sites, and these contain the information you will need to be prepared for this lesson.

Dams are one of the most fundamental ways we’ve altered the flow patterns of the rivers of the Murray-Darling Basin.  Photograph: Bill Phillips
Dams are one of the most fundamental ways we’ve altered the flow patterns of the rivers of the Murray-Darling Basin. Photograph: Bill Phillips

Vocabulary
Environmental flows (see Module 3.4 in this Part)
Erosion
Riparian vegetation (see Module 4.1 in Part 4)
Fish habitat (see Module 4.5 in Part 4)
Aquatic habitat
Floodplain
Sandbar


Procedure
1. Point out to students that rivers are constantly changing depending on the flows they receive, the activities taking place along them, and in the surrounding catchment (see Module 3.3 for more about the catchment concept). 

2. Ask the students to look around the river and surrounding landscape and identify signs of change.


Focus their attention
on aspects such as
flood plains, sand bars, signs of
erosion, weirs or dams, pumps,
urban expansion, bridge or road
construction and the condition of
riverbank vegetation.

3. Lead the class on a hike along your local river or stream looking for these and other indicators of changing water regimes. 

4. Share with students some facts concerning the hydrologic history of their reach gained from the Catchment Action Plan (see above).

5. Give students 15 minutes to sit down and observe the site. (Students should remain stationary while making their observations).

6. Give students the opportunity to orally present their observations, both of the area physically and what, if any, feelings or values they have associated with their observations.

Remind students to respect
the rights of others to 
express different attitudes to
what they've seen and how
they value it.

7. Hand out the ‘River Position’ cards, one to each student and ask them to think about (and discuss) the water needs and the concerns of the plant, animal or human interest they represent.

8. Challenge students to try to decide whose needs are more important. Why? Is there a way at least some of these uses can work together? Are there some uses that rule out others? Have students speculate on the ultimate outcomes of their value judgements. 

9. Ask students to consider if human needs should always have the highest priority.

10. Finish by asking students to draw some conclusions on how their river reach or stream should be managed. What are their priorities? What obstacles do they see within their class group and in the wider community to their management ideas?

Extensions
Have the students interview their parents, grand parents or older members of the community in order to get some insights into what the catchment was like and how water was sourced and used “when they were a kid”.

Have the students compare and contrast the values and uses assigned to water today and compare this to ‘back then’.

Extension suggestion:
Get students to collect an oral
history from older people in the 
area. Talk about how water,
animals and plants used to be
in the area. Where they could
swim, fish they used to catch,
boating etc. How does this
relate to history of the area
and catchment. Is there a local
museum or historical society
they can visit? Access old
newspapers etc.


Flood depths at Banrock Station, SA. These days such floods are rare due to dams and weirs, over-allocation of flows and the impacts of drought. Photograph: Bill Phillips
Flood depths at Banrock Station, SA. These days such floods are rare due to dams and weirs, over-allocation of flows and the impacts of drought. Photograph: Bill Phillips

Secondary pathway
Have the students individually research the water requirements and management issues of the plant, animal, person or piece of infrastructure from one of the River Position cards more fully. 
Appoint several teachers or parents to serve as members of the ‘Board of Planners’. Have each student present their findings and state their position on water management issues in a town hall style of debate. 

Since participants are likely to have different views, how did the interplay of ideas and perspectives strengthen the ability of the group to fully address the issue?
Challenge students to think about how each constituent had different views. How could the consideration for all of these concerns affect the scope and effectiveness of water management? Do those that shout the loudest always win?

Do the students believe all of these issues were as thoroughly explored in considering past water management practices as they are today? What do they believe their responsibilities are as community members for water management in their reach? 

Encourage students to participate in water management discussions in their own region either by contacting the

Road crossings, bridges and even road construction works can impact on river flow patterns. In this case the design of the structure means it creates a barrier to fish migrations when flow levels are low. Photograph: Bill Phillips
Road crossings, bridges and even road construction works can impact on river flow patterns. In this case the design of the structure means it creates a barrier to fish migrations when flow levels are low. Photograph: Bill Phillips

Water extraction for farming, industrial and domestic uses has had major impacts on river health. Photograph: Bill Phillips
Water extraction for farming, industrial and domestic uses has had major impacts on river health. Photograph: Bill Phillips

local Catchment Management Authority or another body with responsibilities in this field.