Brodie Bott

Waterways in decline

THE health of a large Tweed freshwater creek system has been classed as “poor” in an ecological report.

The Terranora and Cobaki broadwaters that those creeks flow in to scored not much better, scraping in with a “fair” mark in the report, released yesterday.

The International Water Centre report card, for the Tweed Shire Council Ecosystem Health Monitoring Program, revealed that significant investment is required to curb the decline in the waterways.

Tweed River Committee chairman Kevin Skinner said the damage to the waterways had not happened overnight, and was largely a legacy of past land management practices, where steep slopes and river banks were cleared of native vegetation and cattle were allowed free access to the waterways.

“Our old style of building subdivisions right down to the water's edge, with large drains down to the estuary, has also had an impact over many years,” Cr Skinner said.

“We have to ensure that we minimise the impacts of future development on this fragile ecosystem.”

Piggabeen, Cobaki and Bilambil creeks were all given C-marks, because of elevated nutrient levels and degraded streamside vegetation.

Duroby Creek was the lowest ranked, with a D mark for low biological indicator scores.

“Revegetating our upper catchment streams is one of the most important things that can be done to reverse the decline in ecological condition that this study has highlighted,” Cr Skinner said.

Council and landholders would need to work together to revegetate the upper catchment, he said.

A significant investment would also be needed in urban stormwater treatment.

“We have a wonderful system of waterways that sustains nature and our lifestyles, but if there is not a significant positive intervention, the health of the estuary and freshwater ecosystem would continue to decline.

“What this means is that the estuary, particularly the broadwaters, could become subject to algae blooms and this will result in a decrease in the quality of habitat for fish and birds, and less enjoyment of the area by people.”

A plan to improve the quality of the waterway will be released soon.

The report card will be available on the Tweed Shire Council website, www.tweed.nsw.gov.au



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