What are waterways, rivers, estuaries and wetlands?
The Department of Water uses the term 'waterways' to refer to any river, creek, stream or brook, including its floodplain and estuary. This includes systems that flow permanently, for part of the year or occasionally; and parts of the waterway that have been artificially modified.
In these webpages we use the following terms:
- 'rivers' are channels in which water can flow – this includes creeks, streams and brooks – for further information see rivers in Western Australia
- 'estuaries' are semi-enclosed bodies of water where freshwater from waterways flows into the ocean, mixing with saltwater - for further information see estuaries in Western Australia
- 'urban waterways' are waterways and water bodies in the urban environment including natural features and those constructed as part of a drainage system. Urban waterways may include rivers, their floodplains and estuaries; associated wetlands or lakes (such as those situated within the floodplain); open unlined drainage channels; closed pipes and concrete drains; compensating basins and sumps; and water sensitive urban design structures such as rain gardens and swales.
- 'wetlands' are areas of seasonally, intermittently or permanently waterlogged or inundated land, whether natural or otherwise, such as lakes, swamps, marshes, springs and damplands.
The characteristics and management of rivers and estuaries are closely linked but are different – for example estuaries are strongly influenced by the ocean as well as their contributing rivers and catchment – hence we assess and manage rivers and estuaries differently.
Similarly, urban waterways incorporate the same characteristics of rivers and estuaries in non-urban landscapes, but are subject to specific pressures from the urban environment and hence require specific management practices.