The Pioneer system repair project focuses on improving water quality leaving farms in the Pioneer River basin which consists of the Pioneer River and Bakers and Sandy Creek catchments.
Water quality improvement is achieved through providing up to fifty percent of funding for streambank and gully erosion control (see photographs below) to reduce sediment loads, construction of artificial wetlands and sediment basins on farms to treat water leaving farms by reducing sediment, chemical and nutrient loads, and revegetation of riparian lands. The Bakers Creek treatment train project on Shane Cowley’s farm and the Racecourse sugar mill wetland restoration and revegetation project are two examples of these works.
The Bakers Creek treatment train drains an area of approximately 700ha of which the majority landuse is for sugarcane production. The landholder had in the past experienced fish kills in his wetland and wanted to prevent this happening in the future. In order to improve the runoff water quality entering the wetland, a sediment basin was constructed and bio-retention basin upstream of the wetland to reduce sediment, nutrient and chemical loads in the runoff before it enters the wetland. A fishway was added also at the end of the wetland to improve fish migration from Bakers Creek into the wetland.
As an added bonus of this project was to increase his on-arm water supply by constructing a 5 ML irrigation sump between the bio-retention basin and wetland that is used to irrigate the cane blocks around the wetland area. Now as well as improving the water quality draining into Bakers Creek the landholder has also been able to increase his sugarcane productivity by being able to irrigate these blocks several times over the dry season which he wasn’t able to do previously.
Racecourse sugar mill wetland restoration
A natural wetland behind the Racecourse Mill is being restored to its former state to improve ecosystem qualities of this area. Stage one of this involved removing water weeds such as water hyacinth and salvina and de-silting the lagoon.
The floodplain land around the lagoon had also become overgrown with weeds following clearing and these were removed to have the land ready for revegetation in the following wet season.
Stage two of this project involved revegetation with more than 5,000 seedlings of native trees and shrubs.
A natural wetland behind the Racecourse Mill is being restored to its former state to improve ecosystem qualities of this area. Stage one of this involved removing water weeds – water hyacinth and salvina – and desilting the lagoon.
The land around the lagoons had become weed infested following clearing and these were removed to have the land ready for revegetation in the following wet season.
Stage two of this to involved revegetation with more than 5000 endemic species seedlings.
Revegetation of native plants was a critical part of this wetland restoration process. As the trees mature they will help recreate the original rainforest ecosystem and environment that was once typical to the Pioneer Valley catchment.
More than 30 native species were selected for the site, including Leichhardt and Damson trees and Alexandra Palms. The seedlings were provided by Mackay Tree Factory and the Pioneer Catchment Landcare Nursery while Whitsunday Catchment Landcare undertook the planting.
Planting endemic species (trees native to the area) also helps guard against invasive and environmentally damaging weeds establishing. Revegetation will also help improve water quality by enhancing natural filtration to remove sediment and nutrients before the water enters the lagoon.