Healthy Land and Water named finalists for international environment award

A major Healthy Land and Water project to restore a flood-ravaged section of Laidley Creek has been named a finalist for the 2018 International RiverFoundation’s Australiasia RiverPrize, the world’s foremost award in river basin management.

The nomination is in recognition of the Mulgowie Riverbank Restoration Program, an ongoing project in the heart of the Lockyer Valley to build resilience into a deeply eroded 3km section of Laidley Creek.

The $2.4m project was designed by Healthy Land and Water and funded by the Port of Brisbane (PoB) and Queensland Urban Utilities (QUU).

Laidley Creek flows past the Mulgowie Farming Company, a sustainable farming operation which depends on the retention of rich top soils to grow a variety of fruits and vegetables.

During the catastrophic South East Queensland floods in 2011 and 2013, large sections of Laidley Creek 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.

Research conducted following the floods estimated that up to 80 per cent of the mud pollution in the river and bay area came from eroded creeks in the Lockyer Valley.

Shortly after the 2013 floods, Healthy Land and Water began working with PoB and QUU to design a project that would build resilience into Lockyer Valley waterways and ensure riverbank zones could withstand future flooding events.

Because much of the damaged riverbanks were on private land, project leaders developed strong relationships with landholders who were prepared to give up portions of their properties to ensure the project was a success.

The restoration involved planting 20,000 trees and grasses, the installation of flow reduction devices, and the reinforcing of creek banks with rock chutes and other natural infrastructure.

When floodwater caused by ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie inundated the Lockyer Valley in March 2017, revegetated and repaired sections of Laidley Creek withstood the floodwaters and prevented large amounts of sediment from being washed into the creek.

In comparison, nearby unrepaired sections of the creek suffered major channel erosion and bank collapse. 

It is estimated the project is preventing around 16,000 tonnes of sediment, 11 tonnes of nitrogen and 22 tonnes of phosphorous from entering the catchment every year.

This is the equivalent of keeping 1,280 standard-sized truckloads of soil out of South East Queensland waterways and Moreton Bay each year.

Healthy Land and Water CEO Julie McLellan said the organisation is proud to have been nominated for such a prestigious award alongside project partners PoB and QUU.

“By collaborating with local landholders and partnering with other industry groups, we have repaired and continue to strengthen this beautiful section of Lockyer Valley,” she said.

“We live in a part of Australia that is prone to rain and flooding, so it’s our responsibility as custodians of South East Queensland to monitor our rivers and bay area and restore eroded riverbanks in order to protect and improve our natural environment”.

The winner of the RiverPrize Award will be announced at the 2018 International Riversymposium in Sydney on 16 October.

For more details and to view the other finalists visit the International Riverprize website.

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