Aussie-first trial starts in Pine River

Published 4:00pm 4 May 2023

Aussie-first trial starts in Pine River
Words by Nick Crockford

Unitywater is trialling an Australian-first oyster reef restoration project in the Pine River.

The project will explore the effectiveness of restored shellfish reefs and determine the value of oysters to filter nutrients in waterways.

It will be conducted in the upper estuarine reaches of the Pine River just downstream from Murrumba Downs Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Daniel Lambert, Unitywater Executive Manager Sustainable Infrastructure Solutions, said the project will help the water utility achieve its’ net zero sustainability goals.

“Unitywater’s commitment to net zero includes an ambitious goal of ensuring all nutrients from wastewater are diverted or offset from waterways by 2050,” he said.

Mr Lambert said the project would test oyster reefs as an economical nutrient offset to help Unitywater offset the nutrients after the wastewater treatment process.

Brilliant creatures

He said oysters are brilliant little creatures that can ‘clean’ waterways and improve water quality by absorbing nitrogen.

“While shellfish reef restoration is relatively new in Australia, researchers know these reefs have great capacity to enhance and restore biodiversity and fisheries,” UniSC Senior Lecturer in Animal Ecology Dr Ben Gilby said.

Healthy Land & Water CEO Julie McLellan believes nature-based are a testament to the vast range of effective, non-invasive, and enviro-friendly solutions nature is providing.

“This exciting project reinforces our mission to lead and connect through science and actions that preserve, recover, and enhance our natural assets and environment in SEQ, while bringing value to the community,” she said.

“Through the invaluable collaboration with Unitywater, the University of Sunshine Coast, OzFish and our Traditional Owners, we have the opportunity to enhance aquatic biodiversity.

“The benefits of this choice will affect generations to come.”

'Very exciting'

OzFish Senior Project Manager for South East Queensland Abbie Taylor added: “This research is going to be very exciting.

“It will open up opportunities for more restoration and has the potential to look at shellfish reef restoration as an offset for industry.

“It will paint a bigger picture about how important shellfish reefs are to our ecosystem and give real data to showcase the work they do in filtering nutrients.”

Unitywater will present the trial at Ozwater, Australia’s premier water exhibition and conference, in Sydney on May 10-12.

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