Urgent river health fix likely to take ‘decades’
Noosa River's silt problem, which threatens the biodiversity of local waterways, could take decades to fully control, according to one Noosa councillor.
Cr Brian Stockwell who has a PhD in catchment sustainability was commenting on concerns raised about the Keep It In Kin Kin run-off and sediment control program being just 4 per cent of the way towards achieving its goal.
He said even if the environment levy funded work being carried out by Noosa and District Landcare "all of a sudden" fixed up all the sediment coming out of Kin Kin, the river's threatened bottom dwelling benthick layers will be impacted for years to come.
Concerns about the river health first surfaced more than 10 years ago when nitrogen blooms impacted on Lake Cootharaba, triggering studies which pointed to run off from creeks entering the lake.
This nitrogen build ups were also blamed when the Noosa River's Healthy Waterways A rating later slipped back to a B.
A recent river health report headed by Queensland University's Professor Greg Skilleter found since 1998 to 2018 there had been a 30-65 per cent decline recorded in the small prawns and other important food sources in the river, most likely triggered by sediment build-ups.
"There's probably decades for that sediment, especially the larger part, to move through the system," Cr Stockwell said.
"We might be seeing stuff down here that came out in the 1972 floods sort of thing, you don't know how long it takes to move through the system."
Cr Tom Wegener said the "goalposts" seemed to have changed with the findings of the Skilleter report.
He said on a recent visit to Landcare he asked how much success had the program achieved in slowing the silt and was told the project was about 4 per cent of the way there.
"This is a much more serious situation that we have, the amount of effort needed to be focused out there is enormous," he said.
"You may have thought we were on target, but we're not on target there now are we, because it's all of a sudden a much bigger target than we thought," Cr Wegener said.
Council environmental services manager Craig Doolan agreed with the councillor's summary.
"We always knew it was a big project and it's only one of several, but you're right, something like Keep it In Kin Kin is such an important project for the ongoing health of the upper creeks and the river system as a whole," Mr Doolan said.
He said Landcare has received about $230,000 to get the sediment control ball rolling.
"Up until then they'd really struggled with it, so the beauty of that and the work done in the upper Mary catchment, was the fact that all the structures were already in place so that money goes into onground (works)," Mr Doolan said.
"They had the landholders ready to go, they're out there doing it right now, but fixing up areas like that … it's not a two year fix.
"It'll take investment over as very long period of time not just from council but also from other levels of government and the private landholders themselves. It's a genuine partnership, we expect inputs from them," Mr Doolan said.