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How Ipswich City Council plans to improve the region’s waterways

Ipswich City Council is gearing up to tackle the city’s waterway health issues, after a report on its roles and responsibilities in the management of the Bremer River and other Ipswich waterways was recently handed down.

The report also provides an overview of the legislative framework, other key stakeholders, the health status, and the priority investment actions for waterways in Ipswich.

Mayor Teresa Harding, who called for the report earlier this year, said council was committed to working with the community and other organisations to improve the state of the Bremer River.

“Council’s primary role in waterway health management is to meet community expectations through policy, planning and management actions,” Mayor Harding said.

“This report clearly depicts the gravity of the task we have set out to achieve, with the recovery of the Bremer River requiring a dedicated, long-term approach to investment.

“While we are just one player in the broader context for waterway and catchment management, council is well positioned to lead, advocate for and implement real change at a local level.

“We are committed to building strong and workable partnerships with other organisations to plan, promote and implement successful strategies for improving our waterways.”

In response to the report, council has adopted its new Waterway Health Strategy.

Environment and Sustainability Committee chairperson Councillor Russell Milligan said the strategy would provide the strategic direction for investment in citywide and sub-catchment based actions.

“It is crucial for the sustainable development and growth of our city that we have a plan to balance the protection and health of our waterways with access for community enjoyment and all the benefits that brings,” Cr Milligan said.

“Our new Waterway Health Strategy will go a long way to achieving better management and improving the way we look after our precious waterways by building on the best available science and past actions to set the investment priorities for the next three to five years.”

View the full strategy on the Ipswich City Council website.

Bremer River and Waterway Health Report snapshot

  • Currently, the Bremer River is considered one of the most degraded waterways in south east Queensland according to the Healthy Land and Water report card with a D rating.
  • The key drivers of the poor health in the Bremer River are high nitrogen, phosphorous and turbidity (mainly from suspended solids and sediments), and the resulting low dissolved oxygen levels, as well as poor habitat and bankside vegetation.
  • The key to improving the Bremer River and Ipswich waterways lies in managing and reducing inputs of sediment and pollutants in the upstream catchments and tributaries that feed into the Bremer River, as well as the activation and beautification of the town reach to engage the community.
  • This will be achieved through five strategic priorities: giving waterways and wetlands room to function; promoting waterways and wetlands as engaging and accessible public spaces; supporting landholders in undertaking works on private properties; reducing sediment entering our waterways; and enhancing riparian corridors.
  • The Bremer catchment will not be able to achieve scorecard ratings for water quality and waterway health comparable with less modified catchments such as the Noosa River, due to its historic and current catchment conditions including urban drainage and inability to ‘flush’.
  • It would be reasonable, through targeted long-term investment, to aspire to achieving a report card grade of C to C+ in the Bremer River. Based on an understanding of previous actions, this may take at least 20 to 30 years for actions now to come to fruition.

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