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Waterway Health Strategy

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.

Introduction to the Document

Mayor's Message

Ipswich is blessed with a tremendous range of outdoor recreational and conservation areas. Part of creating, preserving and enhancing the natural environment is to have a healthy respect for our waterways.

It is important to understand that we all live within a creek or river catchment area and that our day to day activities have the potential to impact on the health of our waterways.

Every catchment throughout Ipswich is different in terms of size and surrounding land use. Some may contain large natural areas and mountainous terrain while others maybe mostly suburbs.

Whatever goes into our waterways will ultimately end up in Moreton Bay.

Looking after our waterways cannot be done in isolation from our neighbouring councils.

A strong and workable partnership between councils is vital to planning, promoting and implementing successful strategies for improving our waterways.

Support from community groups is also an important and welcome addition to carrying out water quality monitoring which can provide an educational opportunity for school students.

They can assess the water quality of their local creek or river in order to better understand the effects of human activity on the health of the catchment area.

Monitoring also helps to evaluate the effectiveness of catchment management initiatives.

Ipswich City Council continues to play a lead role in educating the community and industry of the benefits of improvement our overall management of all waterways within the city boundary.

Improving the health of our waterways provides benefits in many other ways. Many of the city's 500 parks and reserves are close to or adjoin our creeks and rivers. There is an extensive range of facilities providing areas to suit many different leisure and recreational needs.

Thousands of residents and visitors make use of more than 5000 hectares of attractive and useable parkland year round in Ipswich.

The population of Ipswich is set to more than double within the next 20 years. It is crucial for the sustainable development and growth of our city that we have a plan to manage and care for the many natural waterways under our care.

The Waterway Health Strategy will go a long way to achieving better management and improving the way we look after this most precious resource.

The Ipswich Nature Conservation Strategy is an important document to guide all stakeholders in the protection and management of natural areas of our city.

Key stakeholders in the consultation process for this next four year stage of the Strategy included local government elected representatives, the Climate Change Taskforce comprising representatives from construction, Waste and Communications Industries, the Departments of Defence and Transport, the State Government's Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Natural Resources and Water, WESROC, SEQ Catchments and the adjoining Councils of Brisbane, Logan, Scenic Rim, Lockyer Valley and Somerset.

Everyone recognises the benefits of having an articulated and clearly communicated roadmap for a shared vision for the future in our rapidly expanding city.

The Nature Conservation Strategy identifies the desired elements and the management approaches which may be required to achieve these goals.

This includes identification of significant vegetation for protection, the enhancement of nature conservation values in rural, urban and industrial areas, rehabilitation and protection of waterways, management of Conservation Estates and bushland reserves, partnerships with private landholders and community awareness programs.

It also recognises the prioritisation and increase in nature conservation activity as a core business for Council with an understanding of new approaches and innovation to address pressures on the city's natural values.

Residents can be confident the Nature Conservation Strategy will protect and manage the city's natural areas for the benefit of future generations.

Message From Environment and Conservation Committee Chairperson - Cr Cheryl Bromage

Water is one of our most valuable natural resources and the quality of our water supply depends greatly on the health of our waterways.

The Ipswich Waterway Health Strategy is a key document designed to provide a direction for all stakeholders on the management, protection and enhancement of waterways throughout our beautiful city.

There are three priority management themes covered in the Strategy, Water Quality Improvement, Riparian Corridor Management and Community Appreciation.

The Strategy takes into account the social, environmental and economic values of healthy

waterways and provides relevant local objectives to achieve the vision of improved health of Ipswich waterways.

The health of our waterways is directly affected by how we manage land use practices within our catchments. The Strategy looks at preventative measures which could be implemented to secure clean, safe and healthy waterways for generations to come.

One focus of the Strategy is riparian corridor management. Riparian corridors act as a buffer between land uses such as agriculture, industry and urban areas and the aquatic ecosystems. The vegetation in these corridors helps to maintain a healthy and productive waterway and act as linking vegetation habitat corridors between remnant bushland conservation areas.

Council faces a number of environmental, land use and management challenges as it works to achieve its vision for Ipswich waterways. Successful delivery of the WHS will require cooperation from all stakeholders.

When Ipswich 2020 and Beyond was drafted we had a vision for our waterways health.

We expect by 2020, just a decade away, the Bremer River, Brisbane River and other major waterways that flow through Ipswich will have improved water quality and increased biodiversity value. We hope to achieve a quality of these systems so they are appreciated by the community and receive an appropriate recreational use.

The Ipswich City Council's Nature Conservation Strategy (NCS) 2008 provides a clear direction to protect and manage nature conservation outcomes around our beautiful city for the next four years.

Ipswich is home to a diverse range of nature, including over 1,500 species of plants and 550 species of animals. The city's vegetation is dominated by eucalypt woodland forests, but also includes significant ecosystems such as the nationally endangered swamp tea tree.

Since numerous species are listed as rare and threatened, including the City's floral and faunal emblems (the Plunkett Mallee and Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby), a Nature Conservation Strategy was developed and adopted in 2000.

Ipswich City Council recognises the increasing demands and pressures on the natural areas due to population growth in south east Queensland.

In response, the NCS was updated in 2008 with a four year plan for action designed to prioritise important areas for protection, management and rehabilitation including our waterways, conservation estates and bushland reserves. The NCS builds upon the commitment to ongoing partnerships with private landholders and the delivery of community awareness programs. It also addresses the issues of global warming such as climate change.

The NCS 2008 recognises that successful delivery of nature conservation requires involvement, co-operation and partnerships with all stakeholders across Ipswich. This includes all levels of government, private landowners, businesses and industrial partners and non-government agencies.

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 focussing 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 focussing 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, Bremer River Catchment Management Strategy Stage 2 and 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, and
  • 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. The WHS sets the direction for Council to work towards these water quality objectives as aspirational targets, whilst 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:

1. Integrate waterway health management objectives into Council's day to day activities,

2. Reduce the quantity of sediment, nutrients and other pollutants being transported by urban stormwater, and

3. 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 these include:

  • Recognition that protected and managed natural areas form part of the 'green infrastructure' of the City; an important Council asset that requires 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 an 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; and
  • 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.