Healthy Land and Water to deliver major health boost for Moreton Bay

13 February 2018

The future of Moreton Bay looks brighter and healthier after Healthy Land and Water secured funding to reduce the amount of mud and soil entering the renowned marine park.

Recently, the Queensland Government announced it had allocated $1.4 million over three years to Healthy Land and Water’s Healthy Catchments program, which is responsible for on-ground projects that improve the resilience and health of South East Queensland’s waterways.

The money will be used to fund land and waterway rehabilitation projects at different sites throughout the Lockyer and Bremer catchments, which are highly susceptible to erosion during intense rainfall events and are responsible for up to 80 per cent of the mud and soil pollution in Moreton Bay.

During the catastrophic South East Queensland floods in 2011 and 2013, large sections of Laidley Creek in the Lockyer Valley were torn apart by raging floodwaters.

Riverbanks were washed away, and valuable top soil flowed into the Brisbane River and ended up in Moreton Bay, where it smothered sea grasses and other important marine habitats.

The rehabilitation projects will aim to reduce pressure on Moreton Bay Marine Park, which is Queensland’s most popular park with over 12 million annual visits and is home to internationally recognised wetlands, rich mangrove and seagrass habitats, iconic dugongs and turtle species.

Healthy Land and Water will oversee management of the rehabilitation program and work closely with a steering community, community groups, landholders and other stakeholders to devise a restoration strategy that addresses different issues in different sections of the catchments.

To build resilience into the waterways, pile drives (shorts stumps dug into the creek bed) will be installed to reduce the flow of water and the movement of mud and soil downstream.

Other techniques will include bank battering, which involves the placement of rocks and other material to stabilise riverbanks, and at a later stage of the project, native vegetation will be planted along the edge of the waterways to reduce the creekbank's susceptibility to erosion when the catchments are inundated with water.

The rehabilitation work will complement similar Healthy Catchment projects already underway in the region.

The Healthy Catchment’s program was first launched in 2008 and has produced significant results for the environment in the past 10 years, including when floodwater caused by Cyclone Debbie inundated the Lockyer Valley in March 2017.

Sections of Laidley Creek previously rehabilitated as part of the Healthy Catchment’s program withstood the brunt of the floodwater and suffered only minor damage, and more mud and soil than expected was prevented from entering the waterway.

Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said the new funding showcases the state government’s commitment to improving the health of South East Queensland’s waterways.

“The program will focus on the Lockyer and Bremer catchments to address the main source of sediment (mud and soil) entering waterways and reaching Moreton Bay.

“Two-thirds of sediment entering our rivers and Moreton Bay occurs through erosion in our catchments during intense rainfall events.

“This contributes disproportionately to the sediment or ‘mud’ loads polluting our waterways and Moreton Bay, while the level of nutrients and pesticides in the mud also threatens the environmental health of these areas.

Healthy Land and Water Chairman Stephen Robertson said the organisation was proud to work with the Queensland Government and community groups to curb sediment pollution in south-east Queensland waterways.

“We have invested significant time and money into the Healthy Catchments Program because the work being done on the ground is crucial for the overall strength of riverbanks and the health of our catchments,” Mr Robertson said.

“The breakdown of riverbanks causes more than 50,000 dump trucks worth of sediment entering the region’s waterways each year, wreaking a heavy toll on marine habitats and the marine life that relies upon them.”