The release of the annual Healthy Waterways and Catchments Report Card showed catchments across the region had held up well last year compared to recent years. Catchments in Redlands achieved a C+ for ecological health…..showing the waterways in fair condition.
The report card found the estuarine water quality in Redlands to be good but the health of freshwater streams remained poor.
Redlands is master of its own destiny
Redlands has a 525 km network of creeks and streams across 18 catchments. Most of these catchments are completely within the boundaries of Redland City and so the Redlands is well placed to manage our waterways. Other Councils share catchments and larger rivers and coordination and funding is a challenge. Redlands also does a commendable job of monitoring our waterways with its Redlands Waterway Recovery Report which was released in early November. That report showed the only catchment with an overall decline was Native Dog Creek.
The SEQ report card gave Redlands an overall 3 ½ star rating for social and economic benefits which shows the community highly values and is satisfied with its waterways. In the school reports the teacher might well say “Redlands needs to work harder”
Water quality in the foreshores of Redland (there is a split (for reporting purposes) between the Central Bay (B+ being good condition with the extent of marine habitat doo to excellent) and Southern Bay (B which slightly declined due to an increase in nutrient concentrations and a decline in water quality).
The scores in the Bay are cumulative of activities across the whole of the catchments of SEQ and in the Southern Bay the actions it is the catchments of the Logan and Albert Rivers that have most effect. In catchment management terms “no man is an island” .
Councillor and Deputy Mayor Wendy Boglary joined Steven Miles, Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection and Minister for National Parks and the Great Barrier Reef, Trevor Evans MP, Mik Petter B4C and representatives of Healthy Waterways and Catchments and the President of Bulimba Catchment in launching the 2016 Report Card.
A future David Attenborough
Usurping all speakers was the winner of the 2016 Healthy Waterways junior Champion award … 11 year old Will Mathew founder of the Youtube channel Wills Wildlife Kingdom (his speech is well worth a few minutes). Judge for yourself his enthusiasm, knowledge and his speaking skills! See if you think he is well on the path to being a future David Attenborough!
Cr Boglary said acknowledged local efforts “we are fortunate to have some wonderful community groups doing great things. An example of this is our 42 bush care groups in the Redlands who last year planted over 10,500 trees enhancing local corridors and waterways”.
She added the Councils ” development control unit visited more than 1,800 site inspections to reduce sediment pollution issues and we (Council) have initiated two regional industry field days.
“Storm water management continues to be a key priority with Redland maintaining $2.5 million in storm water devices” and that Council had “retrofitted a relic weir at Hilliards Creek to reconnect aquatic habitat and improve conditions for native fish.”
She reported “significant resources have been committed to assist industry to build erosion and sediment control capacity”.
Given the massive contribution that land development makes to sediment loads this initiative looks overdue”.
Another approach would be to properly assess the the impact of urban development on communities and community assets and ensure the industry meets the full cost of its activities.
Regional water quality outcomes
The report card results were generally boosted this year because of lower than average rainfall. Rainfall across the SEQ region was about half that of previous year (i.e. about 600mm). Strange as it may seem the waterway health scores get better if stream flows are low …because there is less flow in the creeks and streams and less sediment is moved.
SEQ Healthy Waterways Report Card system is the envy of many other jurisdictions Australia and across the world. Without knowing the scale of the problem governments are reluctant to spend money to protect natural assets. So the annual reports do not mean on ground works are being directed at fixing the problems. Sediment pollution in the region’s catchment was quantified at 15,000 “dump trucks a year” meaning the regions waterways continue to be stressed. The amount of pollution in the waterways is already heading towards the Bay and so the threat grows annually.
At the same time it was a few months ago that the Queensland government failed in its attempts to pass its tree clearing laws, which were designed to help limit sediment run off.
The economic benefits derived from the waterways of SEQ come from a range of activities with agriculture ($2.2 Billion) tourism ($6 Billion) and outdoor recreation ($3 Billion) being referred to by speakers at the Report Card launch. The waterways and the Bay are critical “green infrastructure” for these industries yet investment to maintain the asset is woeful and inadequate.
Sadly the annual report card receives more media coverage than the comprehensive body of work by those organisations involved in trying to repair the catchments.
The former SEQ Catchments produced an impressive report on what needs to be done and the benefit-costs of doing the work. Budget allocations since the release of Managing What Matters have never approached the needed amount. This is an economic study into the impact of environmental decline in South East Queensland. Commissioned by SEQ Catchments in 2009, the work is part of our commitment to the quality NRM planning in Queensland and measured for the first time the social cost to the community and the impact on business of environmental decline in South East Queensland.
Mik Petter, President Bulimba Creek Catchment Coordinating Committee Inc. (B4C) made the observation that, since 2014, Commonwealth funding for landcare had been reduced by $484 million. Landcare had been the major source of funds for projects aimed at improving catchment management and water quality and the reduced funding is contrary to the needs of places like SEQ especially given the population projections in the draft SEQ Plan…ShapingSEQ. He said we should measure the health of the river by the the return of the annual “fish run” the last recorded fish fun was in the mid 1950’s when the people of Brisbane had there Easter fish supply met by nature. We have a long way to go!
While the annual Healthy Waterways and Catchments Report Card is a reminder of the state of our waterways, it seems governments, all levels, put aside one day for report card platitudes and then return to business as usual. The result is more and more sediments and nutrients in waterways and the Bay.
In the context of the ongoing reports on the health of the Bay, how is it that the Government and Council are still wedded to the Toondah Harbour and Weinam Creek PDAs and another hit to the water quality and an incursion into the healthy ecosystems of Moreton Bay?