The Ipswich Waterway Health Strategy (WHS) is a strategic level document. This document assists Ipswich City Council with the management and enhancement of the natural waterways that run through the city to achieve conservation objectives outlined in Ipswich 2020.

Executive Summary

The Waterway Health Strategy (WHS) has been developed to assist Ipswich City Council with the management and enhancement of the natural waterways that run through the City of Ipswich. It prescribes a change in current management practices to address waterway health improvement as an integral component of total water cycle management. This will entail a change from focusing primarily on end-of-pipe solutions to having greater emphasis on source-of-impact management and riparian corridor protection, management and enhancement. The strategy also identifies the need to prioritise management activities based on addressing the impacts associated with specific land uses and targeting action in the freshwater sub-catchments.

Over the past decade, council has played a strong leadership and support role in the development and implementation of local and regional catchment management strategies, as a key stakeholder. Council is now focusing on catchment and waterway management from within the organisation to determine how it will achieve the objectives of the Corporate Plan 2007-2012, Ipswich 2020 and Beyond, SEQ Regional Plan, SEQ NRM Plan, SEQ Healthy Waterways Strategy and Bremer River Catchment Management Strategy Stage 2, as well as compliance with relevant legislation.

Three priority management themes Water Quality Improvement, Riparian Corridor Management and Community Appreciation give focus to council's investment and effort in waterway health improvement, taking into consideration:

  • The current health of Ipswich waterways
  • Council's roles and responsibilities in waterway health management
  • Regional planning and legislative requirements
  • Community desires and visions for waterway health.

The primary waterway in Ipswich, the Bremer River, is a highly degraded system that fails to meet Queensland Government regulated water quality objectives and scores poorly through the regional Ecosystem Health Monitoring Program (EHMP) Queensland. The WHS sets the direction for council to work towards these water quality objectives as aspirational targets while recognising that the Bremer River may never have met some of these objectives prior to European settlement and most likely will never achieve these in the short- to medium-term. More relevant, local objectives will give council and the community a better sense of possibility in waterway health management. The WHS vision is to improve the health of Ipswich waterways to achieve and maintain a 'D+' rating for the Bremer River estuary and a 'C' rating for the freshwater tributaries by 2031.

Council's greatest capacity to improve waterway health that can be undertaken immediately and that fits within its roles and responsibilities is to use planning mechanisms, strategies and partnerships to:

  • Integrate waterway health management objectives into council's day to day activities
  • Reduce the quantity of sediment, nutrients and other pollutants being transported by urban stormwater
  • Protect, manage and enhance riparian corridors.

The natural environment is a core input into the liveability and prosperity of the city, and is embedded as core business for council.

Council's role in nature conservation is to implement policy, provide management support and deliver on-ground outcomes in priority areas across the city, for local and regional benefits. Council will develop new approaches for nature conservation that require a step change, not incremental change. The window for innovation and action is over the next 5 to 10 years.

There are a number of emerging issues in nature conservation which require new approaches for implementation, the most significant of which include:

  • Recognition that protected and managed natural areas form part of the 'green infrastructure' of the city, an important council asset requiring planning, funding, managing and maintaining similar to other strategic assets.
  • The need to embed nature conservation into all sections of council and an increased role for all sections in its implementation.
  • Partnerships with a range of external government agencies, organisations and business and industry for resources, funding and delivery.
  • Implementing emerging approaches such as carbon and biodiversity offsets and ecosystem services in a coordinated and strategic manner.
  • A comprehensive and integrated program to attract greater involvement of rural landholders in voluntary management of their properties.
  • Recognition of the importance of education, communications and marketing across all programs.
  • A flexible and creative approach to protecting and managing native habitat within urban areas.


Waterway Health Strategy (PDF, 6.6 mb)

Legal Status

The WHS is a strategic level document, endorsed by Ipswich City Council as a corporate project for the next 3 years. The first review will be undertaken at 18 months, from the date of Council adoption, to update and ensure relevance and accuracy of intent. A comprehensive review of the Strategy will commence in 2.5 years.