$8m plan to improve major river

Published 6:00am 25 March 2023

$8m plan to improve major river
Words by Nick Crockford

Work is planned at nine sites in Kabi Kabi Country along the Caboolture River, to increase biodiversity and fish habitat while stabilising 2.4kms of eroding riverbank.

Healthy Land & Water, Unitywater and Kabi Kabi representatives gathered to break ground on one of Australia’s largest nutrient offsetting river rehabilitation projects in an estuarine environment.

Unitywater Executive Manager Sustainable Infrastructure Solutions Daniel Lambert said the $8 million project was culturally and environmentally significant.

“We’ve worked to understand the heritage of the site – its significance to First Nations peoples for thousands of years and the Morayfield Plantation that was located here,” he said.

“We have indigenous and non-indigenous monitors working with us to ensure we protect the cultural heritage of the region.

“Our teams have processes in place should they make any discoveries.”

$8m plan to improve major river

Great resource

Kabi Kabi Spokesperson Kerry Jones said all the Caboolture River was a cultural site.

“You could be coming across stone tools, shell middens, potentially scar trees,” he said. “These river systems have been such a great resource for our people for thousands of years.

“Years ago, there was no protection around Aboriginal cultural heritage. Today, we’ve got protection and it’s important we leave (any items of significance) on Country.”

More than 30,000 seedlings will be planted, 1.6 tonnes of nutrients offset per year and 34 tonnes of carbon offset a year from the Burpengary East wastewater treatment plant.

“We are the first water utility in Australia to commit to zero nutrients to waterways and this significant project will help us do that while preserving local culture,” Mr Lambert said.

Healthy Land & Water Chief Operational Officer Andrew O’Neill said the project would create resilience against disaster-scale flooding.

$8m plan to improve major river

Water quality

“The works will improve water quality, biodiversity, promote aquatic ecosystem health, as well as terrestrial habitat for wildlife and regeneration of riparian vegetation,” Dr O’Neill said.

“Streambank erosion is a common occurrence in South East Queensland where vegetation has been removed or decreased by multiple factors such as velocity of water moving through the river during large flood events, grazing, and also from boat-wash as people use the rivers recreationally.”

Archaeologist Christopher van der Westhuizen said there was still evidence of the site’s history present today.

“There’s the remains of the main homestead which have some features like the brick-lined well, but you also have…the potential to find an old rum distillery they had here and a wharf where they shipped goods in and out to Brisbane,” he said.

Mr Lambert said the project will provide offsets for the equivalent of an additional load on our Burpengary East wastewater treatment plant of 5500 people.

$8m plan to improve major river

Fast facts

  • 9 sites along 2.4km of riverbank
  • 22,000 cubic metres of excavation
  • 300 logs used to protect the bank
  • 21,000 tubestock
  • 4500 mangrove propagules collected and planted
  • 10,000 plants translocated
  • 3000 Biodegradable Ecosystem Engineered Elements (BESE)
  • Works duration: approximately 2 years.

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