Maintaining the health of our receiving waters - Noosa Biosphere example

One way to view the health of the waterways near our homes and projects is via the Healthy Land and Water report cards for river systems. Comparing the results, both over time and in consideration of the levels and type of development which are occurring in the waterway’s catchment, can provide some interesting insights.

As Sunshine Coast locals and regular visitors to Noosa, we are always happy to see their scores, usually topping the list, with the most recent score being an A- for the Noosa River.

Whilst the report card score is great, a recent ABC radio interview with a member from the Noosa Biosphere suggests that adopting different assessment criteria may present a very different result. During the interview it was reported that an interim milestone report has identified a decline in marine species (yabbies, prawns, bivalves, worms etc) of up to 90% compared to the same study undertaken 20 years ago. A large part of this was attributed to the deposition of fine sediment into the river system.  

While this was disappointing to hear, it was great to learn of some of the projects being undertaken by the BioSphere members to ensure the health of the Noosa River is improved and hopefully bringing back some of the populations that have declined in recent years. Of note is their Noosa catchment priority erosion remediation program Keeping it in Kin Kin. Phase 2 of the project will continue the erosion repair program to support water quality in the Kin Kin catchment and Noosa River system. It is reported that Phase 1 of the project identified by satellite analysis that 2.4 million cubic tonnes of soil (equivalent to approximately 765 Olympic sized swimming pools filled with soil) has been mobilised in recent years. The project will raise awareness of the problem in the wider community and rehabilitate vulnerable soil structures in priority locations.

Another project being undertaken is the Bring Back the Fish, restoring lost habitat in the Noosa Biosphere Reserve by re-establishing oyster reefs and associated aquatic communities in the Noosa Estuary and River up to Tewantin and restoring prawn stocks in the Noosa River and Lakes.

While these are just two examples of some of the great projects that will undoubtedly assist in maintaining the health of our local river systems, it is essential that improved land management across all land uses is investigated and positive steps taken to reduce the resulting downstream impacts. In order to achieve this result, a collective improvement is required across both rural and urban development sites by not only the construction personnel on the ground, but also consultants advising on planning and best practice requirements such as those within the SPP and finally government pursuing enforcement when standards are not met. Sediment control, particularly of fine sediments, is critical in maintaining the health of our receiving waters. 

More details in relation to the BioSphere projects can be found at Noosa Biosphere website.

Kyle Robson