The Bakers Creek catchment area drains the coastal floodplain surrounding the township of Walkerston. (Courtesy of Mackay Regional Council)
Summary of progress
The Bakers Creek catchment area drains the coastal floodplain surrounding the township of Walkerston. Bakers Creek flows eastward, entering the sea at Sandringham Bay. The catchment landscape is an expansive flat floodplain traversed by irrigation and drainage channels that have modified natural flow to provide water to farms. While the riparian vegetation in the upper catchment has been extensively cleared, the lower reaches have maintained moderate riparian condition and extent.
In 2007, the ecological condition of the Bakers Creek catchment area was rated as amongst the poorest in the Mackay Whitsunday region. Between 2007 and 2013, there has been considerable efforts by agriculture and industry to improve management practices for water quality benefits.
To ensure ongoing improvement of water quality the reduction in particulate and filterable reactive phosphorus remain the highest priority in the Bakers Creek catchment area. With marine risk exposure from pesticide and nutrient loads rated as high in the near shore environments to the estuary, management practices that reduce other nutrients and residual herbicides, particularly diuron, are also a high priority.
All system repair actions that improve fish habitat and species diversity and abundance are critical to improve the poor ecological health rating for the Bakers Creek catchment area. Riparian vegetation restoration and connectivity is also a high priority to support fish communities and stabilise the stream bed and banks for improved water quality. Prioritisation and investment in mangrove and saltmarsh rehabilitation are also crucial to halt degradation and initiate recovery of these coastal systems for fisheries productivity.