NatureNow

Big things are happening at Small Creek

Something big is happening to Small Creek at Raceview. Running between Whitehill and Warwick roads, the concrete drain is about to get a makeover as it’s returned to a natural waterway.

It’s no small task returning a concrete channel into a flourishing natural waterway.

Ipswich First caught up with those behind this ambitious project to find out their ‘recipe’ for success.

Ingredients:

1 x concrete channel (Ours is 1.6km long)

Lots of willing community members

An open mind and no preconceptions

1 x Engineering consultancy

1 x Landscape architect

1 x Geomorphologist (a person who studies creeks, rivers and their evolution)

200,000 x native plants including trees, shrubs, grasses and sedges

40 x trash baskets

1 x 883m footpath

Earth moving equipment

Attention to detail and persistence

Method

Part 1: Plan it (Where we’ve been)

Stephanie Brown, Crs Charlie Pisasale and David Martin watch on as Mayor Andrew Antoniolli strikes a symbolic first blow to the concrete channel in Small Creek.

An artist’s impression of Small Creek in the future.

  1. Take your open mind and combine it with lots of willing community members. Invite the community and stakeholders to the site over the course of a week – council held its last October and called it Design Your Creek Week.
  2. Start with blank sheets of paper and ask people what they want for the concrete channel.
  3. Document outcomes and responses.
  4. Add your engineering consultancy, landscape architect and geomorphologist and undertake a design that reflects community desires.
  5. Overlay this design with technical limitations – the nature of soils, what water wants to do and conveyance issues.
  6. Respond to constraints and redesign as necessary. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until no concerns remain.

Part 2: Build it (What we’re up to now)

  1. Add your earth moving equipment to the mix. Break up the old concrete drain and excavate about 30,000 cubic metres of soil to construct a channel with pools and riffles (rock ramps).
  2. Add soil conditioners and 200,000 plants typically found in native wetlands and waterways. This will give your creek valuable habitat for local wildlife.
  3. Construct 883 metres of concrete pathway to help activate the space and improve connectivity for local residents.
  4. Install trash baskets on drains in nearby streets to prevent litter from ending up in the creek.
  5. Allow your mixture to rest, using your attention to detail and persistence to provide care as the plants grow and the drain becomes a creek (Be patient, plants take time to grow and ecosystems time to re-establish functionality).

Part 3: Enjoy it (What the future holds)

  1. Enjoy walking/cycling/skating alongside the creek; the cool, clean air, clean water, and the wildlife that has returned to Small Creek.
  2. Watch the nearby waterways improve as 108 tonnes of sediment, 863kg of nitrogen and 149kg of phosphorus are removed from the waterways annually.

For more information about the Small Creek naturalisation project visit ipswich.qld.gov.au/smallcreek

The awards are flowing for Small Creek naturalisation project

Winner: Stormwater Queensland – Excellence in Strategic or Master Planning

Winner: Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) Queensland – Landscape Management

Winner: Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) National – Landscape Management

Finalist: Healthy Waterways Awards – Government Stewardship Award

Finalist: River Basin Management Society – Involving Community in Waterway Management

A rare opportunity

For environmental engineer Alan Hoban the chance to make a lasting difference at Small Creek is a rare opportunity.

Mr Hoban said the project would have significant social and environmental benefits.

“This project’s been a real highlight for me, there’s been an ongoing movement around day-lighting or re-naturalising waterways over the past two decades but it’s really started to gain some momentum,” he said.

“This project is part of a global movement to reconnect to our waterways.”

Small Creek was once a meandering natural stream with a series of ponds before it was turned into a concrete drain.

Returning the concrete channel to a natural waterway will improve water quality and activate an otherwise empty space.

This project is being funded through Ipswich City Council’s Stormwater Quality Offsets Program.

It is exciting to see work begin on this project which will benefit the community now and many decades into the future.

Cr Kerry Silver

Conservation and Environment Committee Chairwoman

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