From bank stabilisation and riparian revegetation, to sediment detention basins and wetland restoration – Reef Catchments has been working with landholders in the Mackay and Whitsunday region to deliver a diverse range of Systems Repair projects, funded through the Australian Government Reef Programme.
Reef Catchments Healthy Waterways project officer, Chris Dench, said the response from landholders a year into the program was excellent.
“As a result, Reef Catchments is undertaking four System Repair projects within the Mackay Whitsunday region. Systems Repair projects look to build resilience into the landscape to be able to deal with future pressures and ultimately improve the health of the Great Barrier Reef and the surrounding reef catchments,” Mr Dench said.
“Three of the projects are river basin improvement projects with the fourth looking to address issues from urban development in coastal areas.
“The O’Connell and Plane Creek River Basins were both selected for their high ecological value and good relative water quality. The third river basin, the Pioneer, was selected as it is the most intensively developed agricultural area in the Great Barrier Reef landscape.
“Our coastal environments have been heavily fragmented and impacted by the growth of the urban footprint, so our urban development centres are also being targeted for systems repair.”
The focus of projects in the O’Connell and Rocky Dam Basins is on improved ecosystem health to deal with future pressures, while further improving water quality and landscape connectivity. A key component is Reef Catchments work with landholders to directly improve bank stabilisation and riparian vegetation along rivers, while also opening up aquatic habitat with the removal of fish barriers.
“High priority sites have been identified and prioritised within the basins, which will provide the greatest reduction in pollutant loads,” Mr Dench said.
Work in the Pioneer Basin differs slightly, with the primary aim to significantly improve water quality through a treatment train approach.
“A series of targeted bio-retention systems and constructed wetlands will protect downstream freshwater, estuarine and marine environments.
“The treatment trains will provide multiple opportunities for water to be treated to reduce nutrient, chemical and sediment loads as it makes its way through the landscape and ultimately out into the Great Barrier Reef lagoon.”
The systems repair work being carried out in urban areas aims to improve condition and restore connectivity through revegetation, strategic weed control, installation of fishways, and the construction of artificial wetlands to improve the quality of water leaving urban development centres.
“Together, these System Repair projects complement the water quality grants projects being undertaken through the Reef Programme, and improve total water discharge from the Mackay and Whitsunday region,” said Mr Dench.