Hundreds of the most important volunteers in Canberra are back on duty - and they report that the creeks of the city are flowing with fresh and abundant water.
"This is lovely. It's just looking fantastic," said Lesley Harland at the stepping stones across Ginninderra Creek in Umbagong Park.
For two months, the hundreds of volunteers who go out to collect and test water across the Canberra region have been confined to their homes.
But as restrictions ease, they have restarted their unpaid work across the upper Murrumbidigee catchment area, from Yass to Captains Flat to the Kosciuszko National Park and all areas in between.
Over the weekend, the volunteers under the ACT's Water Watch scheme were back dipping their bottles on the end of poles, gathering samples to test for the amount of oxygen and other chemicals.
What they found was a contrast to the drought-ravaged waterways of two months ago. "In January when we were here, it was all dried - just isolated pools," Lesley Harland said.
"There was a dead redfin...there were some dead carp. Further down the creek, there was a pool with about half a dozen dead carp in it.
"This was all to do with the lack of oxygen."
But in the rural parts of the ACT, it's a different story, according to Woo O'Reilly, the coordinator of Water Watch.
In the areas ravaged by fire, ash remains on banks and river beds, harming the ecosystem. It has adverse effects on waterbugs, fish and platypus.
"There have been some devastating effects," she said, "so it's good to have the volunteers back getting data."
But in the city, the flowing waterways were glorious.
"The creek's just looking really good. It's so clear," Lesley Harland said.
"When we were here in January, it was very low. The water was lacking oxygen. It looked really dark but today it is looking absolutely fantastic.
I think the fact that people are walking here may make them appreciate it more rather than just seeing it as a dump.Lesley Harland, WaterWatch volunteer
"It's really good to be back."
There are 200 volunteers who do 2,000 water quality surveys every year, monitoring 230 sites. An additional 200 volunteers monitor likely areas for platypus. On top of that, there are volunteers who do unpaid work in nature reserves like Mount Taylor and Mount Painter.
It is thought to be one of the biggest pool of volunteers in Australia, perhaps anywhere.
"Canberra has the highest rate of volunteering in the nation," according to the ACT's Environment Minister, Mick Gentleman.
He reckoned that a third of adult Canberrans and around two-thirds of younger citizens volunteered for different causes.
He praised the army of "citizen scientists".
"These dedicated individuals work every day to help protect and monitor our most important natural assets," he said.
Water-watcher Lesley Harland had one big hope as she returned to duty at the stepping stones in Umbagong Park: "I think the fact that people are walking here may make them appreciate it more rather than just seeing it as a dump, which I think some people did: 'It's just water. We'll just chuck things in it'.
"If they can come and see how nice it is, then may be they will start looking after it as well."
- Correction: An earlier version of this article referred to redfin as a native fish. Redfin perch is an introduced species.