Queensland Urban Utilities is the first water service provider in Queensland to introduce a water quality offsets program.
The green infrastructure program aims to help reduce the amount of sediment and foreign nutrients entering one of South East Queensland’s most impacted rivers.
This program supports recommendations in the Healthy Waterways 2013 Ecosystem Health Report Card released today, calling for additional action to address diffuse source pollution and reduce nutrient levels in South East Queensland estuaries and Moreton Bay.
Chief Executive Officer Louise Dudley said Queensland Urban Utilities is investing close to $1 million in a pilot water quality offsets scheme to repair approximately 500 metres of severely eroded riparian corridor near the Beaudesert Sewage Treatment Plant in the Logan River catchment.
“Queensland Urban Utilities is investing in innovative and cost-effective ‘green infrastructure’ projects to improve the health of our waterways.”
Healthy Waterways, through its ongoing Report Card, will monitor the improvements in waterway health resulting from this vital program as we manage the amount of sediment and nutrients entering the Logan River.
Ms Dudley said this ‘green infrastructure’ project was chosen over a traditional sewage treatment plant upgrade which would have cost $8.0m and focused only on reducing nitrogen emissions.
“Once these riverbanks have been restored, over a 10 year period it is estimated that 170,000 tonnes, or approximately 10,000 tipper trucks, of sediment containing 70 tonnes of nitrogen will be prevented from entering the Logan River due to natural erosion.”
Other benefits for the Logan River will include reduced local turbidity, reduced total phosphorus mass load transfer and establishment of permanent native vegetation to improve biodiversity.
To secure the offset, QUU is seeking to have its Environmental Protection Act licence for the Beaudesert STP varied to increase its annual nitrogen discharge limit by 7 tonnes per year.
The water quality offsets program is in addition to Queensland Urban Utilities ongoing investment in sewage treatment plant upgrades including the recently completed $115 million Goodna Sewage Treatment Plant upgrade.
The Healthy Waterways 2013 Report Card noted that the more than $1 billion invested in sewage treatment plant upgrades since 2000 had been highly effective in improving water quality in South East Queensland’s estuaries through lowering nutrient loads and reducing the incidence of algal blooms.
Ms Dudley said Queensland Urban Utilities would continue to invest in water and sewerage infrastructure as part of its $3.2 billion 10-year capital works investment.
“In 2013/14 we’re investing over $33 million to upgrade the sewerage network in the Woolloongabba catchment, reflecting our commitment to improving and sustaining healthy waterways in our service territory.”
More information on the Healthy Waterways’ 2013 Ecosystem Health Report Card can be found at www.healthywaterways.org
Further information about SEQ Catchments can be found on www.seqcatchments.com.au