How healthy is your local catchment ?

The annual Healthy Waterways Report Card communicates the health of South East Queensland’s waterways.

 

Southern Catchments

Albert River

Significant increases in population are predicted for the region between Surfers Paradise and Brisbane as the two cities blend their boundaries. One of several rivers which lie within this region is the Albert River, which runs through both the Gold Coast and Beaudesert shire. The river marks the border with the City of the Gold Coast, Logan City Council and the Scenic Rim Council and provides drinking water for the town of Beaudesert.

The catchment zone for the Albert River covers an area of approximately 782km, however it is only the southern end of the river which is monitored by Healthy Waterways. The Southern Albert River Catchment is comprised of a variety of land uses including grazing, crop farming and rural residential areas and is bordered primarily by Yatala and Beenleigh. Cotton and sugar plantations were historically the most prominent land use types along the river; however it is the Alberts affiliation with rum production which gives it historical value.

The Beenleigh Water Reclamation Facility runs along the Albert River and the Gold Coast Council recently renamed the facility from wastewater treatment plant as a $13 million upgrade has seen the treated water reused for farming and other agricultural purposes.

Healthy Waterways has monitored 7 sites on the Albert River Estuary on a monthly basis since 2000.

Broadwater

The Gold Coast Broadwater is a large shallow estuary of water reaching from the locality of Southport to the southern section of the World Heritage Listed Moreton Bay and is separated from the ocean by Stradbroke Island.

The entrance of the Nerang River was at Main Beach in the late 19th century but by the 1980s had moved about 6 km northwards. In 1984, a project commenced to stabilize the Nerang River estuary which links the Gold Coast Broadwater and Nerang River to the Pacific Ocean to ensure a safer entrance for recreational and commercial boats. The Broadwater is also the low point in the city to which rainfall from several of the city’s major catchment areas drain.

Subject to many years of human disturbance, the Broadwater and Spit require ongoing management to maintain environmental health and allow continual use by residents and visitors. The Broadwater as it stands today is an important recreational water environment and an economic resource for many residents and visitors to the Gold Coast.

Healthy Waterways monitors 9 sites within the Broadwater.

Coomera River

The Coomera River catchment lies within the northern part of the Gold Coast and extends into the eastern region of the Scenic Rim Council. The Coomera River catchment, with a total area of 489km², is the fourth largest catchment in the Southern Catchments reporting zone. The history of the river suggests that it was primarily used to transport timber downstream to Moreton Bay.

The estuarine section of the river has been impacted the most by modifications to the lower floodplain for canal estates, marinas and golf courses. This stretch of river does not receive any discharge from sewage treatment plants but is a popular location for water skiers and recreational fisherman. The freshwater section has poor quality in several areas, showing high nutrient concentrations and occasional algal blooms and aquatic weeds.

Healthy Waterways has monitored 7 sites on the Coomera River Estuary on a monthly basis since 2000.

Currumbin Creek

The Currumbin Creek catchment, with a total area of 48km² is the smallest terrestrial catchment in the Southern Catchments reporting zone. The headwaters rise in the near pristine McPherson Ranges and flow through total residential areas.

Currumbin Creek is situated in a relatively narrow and steep sided valley. Mangrove, salt marsh and Casuarina forest patches are present in the lower reaches of the estuary. These patches are bordered by residential and commercial areas. The lower estuary provides a significant aquatic and shore based recreational resource for the city, attracting fishermen, swimmers, surfers and boating enthusiasts. The mouth of Currumbin Creek is almost completely obstructed by a sandbar.

A long history of coastal development, associated clearing and dredging has significantly altered the estuary’s riparian and benthic zones. Dredging of the creek mouth and estuary channel has caused a distinct change to the ecology of the estuary. The riparian areas of the estuarine section of Currumbin Creek however are largely intact due to the difficulty in building on the steep hillsides and to the presence of the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary.

Healthy Waterways has monitored 5 sites on the Currumbin Creek Estuary on a monthly basis since 2002

Logan River

Logan City is predicted to be one of the fastest growing cities in Queensland. The Logan River catchment has a total area of 3,076km², in which there are 5486km of stream networks, with 36 of those kilometres being included as the estuarine component of the monitoring program. The upper catchment of the Logan River Estuary has been extensively cleared for agriculture, grazing and dairying, while the mid and lower reaches flow through rural residential and urban areas. There are also several aquaculture facilities located along the banks of the Logan Estuary near its mouth. The Logan River Estuary directly receives treated sewage effluent from two STPs (Loganholme and Mt Cotton) and indirectly from the Beenleigh STP which discharges into the Albert River.

Development of the surrounding catchments for agriculture, housing, industry and transport as well as changes to runoff levels and population growth has put pressure on the Logan River and surrounding waterways. Improvements in management, community education and sewage treatment plant upgrades in recent years have aimed to improve on this, however the 2013 Healthy Waterways Report Card has indicated that water quality has been decreasing in the Logan River.

Healthy Waterways has monitored 12 sites within the Logan River Estuary on a monthly basis since 2000.

Nerang River

The Nerang River catchment is the largest and most significant river system on the Gold Coast, playing host to the Hinze Dam which provides the Gold Coast with its main water supply. The Nerang River catchment, with a total area of 498km² is the third largest catchment in the Southern Catchments reporting zone. There are 928km of stream networks in this catchment, of which 25km are defined as estuarine for reporting processes.

The tidal estuary region of the system traverses through medium and high density urban residential areas and receives runoff from the Carrara/Merrimac floodplain area before joining the Broadwater system and flowing into the Pacific Ocean via the Gold Coast Seaway. Multi-branched canal developments and a number of artificial tidal and freshwater lake systems have influenced and altered large areas of the floodplain. These canal developments provide a range of opportunities for many residents including boating and recreational fishing. The canals and lakes provide habitat to a range of aquatic, terrestrial and marine flora and fauna. The canal systems provide for drainage of stormwater and contribute to flood mitigation, but can periodically be subject to contamination via stormwater drainage. There are no STPs which discharge to the Nerang River Estuary.

Healthy Waterways has monitored 11 sites on the Nerang River on a monthly basis since 2000.

Pimpama River

The Pimpama River catchment, with a total area of 171km², is the fifth largest catchment in the Southern Catchments reporting zone. There are 389km of stream networks in this catchment, of which 13.5km are defined as estuarine for reporting processes. The catchment is bordered by the Albert and Logan River systems to the north and west, with the Coomera Catchment to the south. The river flows east under the Pacific Motorway through a low floodplain area which is mainly dominated by sugar cane farms and reaches its destination in the Broadwater and southern Moreton Bay.

There is a substantial urban development along with numerous canal estates. The lower estuaries of the catchment are popular for fishing, boating and recreation. McCoy's Creek, one of the Pimpama Rivers major tributaries, is a declared fish habitat area and a zoned protected marine park. There is a weir located approximately 3.5km upstream of the river mouth.

Healthy Waterways has monitored 8 sites along the Pimpama River Estuary on a monthly basis since 2001.

Southern Bay

The Southern Bay catchment extends from the Logan River mouth in the north to the Pelican Banks. It is made up of mangrove islands, seagrass beds and urbanised areas of Russell and Macleay Island and Redland Bay. Water quality is most affected by discharges from the Logan River which contributes high sediment and nutrient loads from both point and diffuse sources. Impacts are particularly noticeable after heavy rainfall when sediment levels in the rivers together with the typically long residence times in southern Moreton Bay result in reduced water quality, often for extended periods.

Healthy Waterways has monitored 16 sites in Southern Bay on a monthly basis since 2000.

Tallebudgera Creek

The Tallebudgera Creek catchment, with a total area of 110km², is the second smallest catchment in the Southern Catchments reporting zone. There are 219km of stream networks in this catchment, of which 11km are defined as estuarine for reporting processes. The headwaters rise from the near pristine areas of the McPherson Ranges on the Queensland and New South Wales border, and flow through rural areas. The riparian areas along the reach of this creek are largely intact, where the mouth has been altered by a stabilising rock wall.

Healthy Waterways has monitored 5 sites on Tallebudgera Creek Estuary on a monthly basis since 2002.