27 April, 2023

$8M Caboolture River rehabilitation project welcomed

OVER the next two years works will take place at nine sites in Kabi Kabi Country along the Caboolture River, to increase biodiversity and fish habitat while stabilising 2.4 kilometres of eroding riverbank

Caboolutre river erosion
Caboolutre river erosion

Key stakeholders including Unitywater, construction partner, Healthy Land & Water and Kabi Kabi representatives gathered to break ground on what will be 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 both culturally and environmentally significant as the site was located beside heritage listed areas such as the Morayfield Plantation remains.

“In the process of planning this project, 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,” Mr Lambert said.

“We have indigenous and non-indigenous monitors working with us on this project to ensure we protect the cultural heritage of the region. Our teams have processes in place should they make any discoveries.”

Kabi Kabi Spokesperson Kerry Jones said the whole of 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.”

The project will see more than 30,000 seedlings planted, 1.6 tonnes of nutrients offset per year, and 34 tonnes of carbon offset per year from Unitywater’s 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 was important for the whole region as it helped tackle erosion and offset nutrients while at the same time creating resilience against disaster-scale flooding.

“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 boatwash as people use the rivers recreationally.

“The program sites have been selected because these factors have generated substantial erosion in the river. Re-establishing mangroves and other vegetation, as well as stabilising the banks, is critical to protecting these sensitive areas.”

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 that they had here and a wharf where they shipped goods in and out to Brisbane,” he said.

Mr Lambert said the population growth in the area would put pressure on the environment and on wastewater infrastructure.

“This project will provide offsets for the equivalent of an additional load on our Burpengary East wastewater treatment plant of 5500 people,” he said.

“Offsetting nutrients is one way we are working to reduce our operating footprint.”

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

4,500 mangrove propagules collected and planted

10,000 plants translocated

3000 Biodegradable Ecosystem Engineered Elements (BESE)

Works duration: approximately 2 years.


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