Students, volunteers and the community can now help protect the environment through hands-on opportunities to monitor the health of waterways and their wildlife at the Mornington Peninsula’s Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park. 
Minister for Water, Harriet Shing officially opened the South East Water Discovery Lab at the sanctuary located in Pearcedale. The new education centre was made possible through the support of South East Water’s annual Community Grants program, which has so far granted $230,000 to 50 community groups across Melbourne’s south-east.  
The South East Water Discovery Lab provides ongoing water quality testing to preserve the health of Langwarrin Creek, which flows directly through Moonlit Sanctuary before flowing into Western Port Bay.  
Participants will have hands-on opportunities to test the water quality of the creek by surveying water bugs (invertebrates). Water bugs are nature’s biological indicators, helping to identify pollution in our waterways and support native animals including fish, frogs, rakalis (water rat) and even platypus.  
The project began with a South East Water community grant to the RARES Foundation (Recovery and Restoration of Endangered Species), with an additional funding from Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park to help make it a reality.

Top photo:
South East Water Board Chair, Lucia Cade and Minister for Water, Harriet Shing and students open the South East Water Discovery Lab at Moonlt Sanctuary in Pearcedale.

Lance Lloyd from Western Port Biosphere Reserve shows students waterbugs found in Langwarrin Creek under the microscope.

“We’re proud to support this important project through our annual Community Grants program, helping to protect and enhance the health and biodiversity of local waterways.”
South East Water General Manager Liveable Water Solutions, Charlie Littlefair

Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park Founder and Director, Michal Johnson said the project created exciting benefits for conservation and the local environment.

“Moonlit Sanctuary is dedicated to saving endangered species, including those that live in our streams. Thanks to South East Water we will be able to test water quality in our local stream and educate people about the importance of healthy waterways to conservation.”
Moonlit Sanctuary Director and Founder, Michael Johnson

Cutting the ribbon to open the South East Water Discovery Lab at Moonlit Sanctuary. L:R South East Water Board Chair, Lucia Cade; Minister for Water, Harriet Shing; Moonlit Sanctuary Director, Michael Johnson; Member for Cranbourne Pauline Richards; Member for Bass, Jordan Crugnale; joined by students from Devon Meadows Primary and Lighthouse Christian College.

The South East Water Discovery Lab offers a closer look at wildlife living in and around Langwarrin Creek, including new exhibits for the Growling Grass Frog and Spotted Galaxias Fish.  
The South East Water Community Grants program supports projects that make our communities better places to live, including those that: 

  • support vulnerable community members 
  • make our environment healthier

  • help people be more active and connected  

  • help make sure we all know about water and how to use it in the best way possible. 

South East Water looks forward to announcing the 2023 recipients of its annual Community Grants program in June.

For more information about Community Grants visit

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