D+ and a D- for Bremer in 2014 Healthy Waterways Report Card
DRY conditions in the past year saw the health of the Bremer River drop from a C- to a D+ in the upper reaches and remain a D- along the estuary in this year's Healthy Waterways Report Card.
Although freshwater grades throughout south-east Queensland declined this year, there was a slight improvement in the overall health of Moreton Bay, which increased from a C in 2013 to a B-.
The Bremer estuary (from the city reaches to the Brisbane River) was reported to have a slight increase in dissolved oxygen while the upper reaches declined in all indicators this year.
Healthy Waterways Dr Paul Maxwell said the dry weather combined with the lack of riverbank vegetation and channel and gully erosion in the Bremer and its tributaries impacted on the health of the river.
This year has seen the lowest rainfall in south-east Queensland since Healthy Waterways started the assessment in 2000. The last decent run-off into the Bremer was in March.
Chairman of Healthy Waterways' Scientific Expert Panel, Professor Stuart Bunn, said the major issue affecting waterway health in south-east Queensland continued to be the increasing amount of sediment entering our waterways.
"In order to protect and improve waterway health, we need to manage runoff from expanding urban areas, restore riparian areas along degraded waterways and protect existing riverbank vegetation," Professor Bunn said.
Following major upgrades to the region's wastewater plants to improve sediment and nutrient loads, the Bremer has gone from an F to a D- in the past two years.
Ipswich City Council is now focussing on managing sediment in the upper catchment through replanting riparian corridors.
Environment and Conservation Committee chairwoman Heather Morrow said more than 11,000 trees had been planted along Bundamba Creek during the past year with community groups.
She said revegetation would provide stability to the riverbanks to prevent erosion and shade to provide better fish habitat.
The report says during normal conditions, the Bremer does not receive enough water in its catchments to flush out impurities. This results in poor water quality with high levels of turbidity, nutrients and bacteria.
The deadly bacteria E. coli became an issue after the 2011 floods, with Ipswich City Council closing recreational use of the river. Water treatment plants damaged in the flooding disaster caused the bacterial outbreak and while all were swiftly repaired, E. coli levels remained unsafe for several months.
Defence officials from RAAF Base Amberley have also previously admitted their site had contaminated a creek which runs into the Bremer River, with cancer-causing chemicals. In 2009, Environmental Protection Agency tests showed the creek was high in cadmium, nickel, mercury and chromium; polluting the waterway to an unsafe level.