22 C
Byron Shire
March 7, 2021

Landowners needed to improve river health

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Floodplain project officer Garry Owers stands beside the new rock weir in the Kookami Swamp.

 

Richmond River County Council (RRCC) wants to hear from landholders who are interested in improving the condition of their riverbanks and wetlands.

RRCC floodplain project officer Garry Owers said this week that the Richmond and Wilson rivers were in a sadly neglected state, with bare banks slumping and eroding and invasion by coral trees and other weeds.

‘Regeneration with native species and protection with fencing can stabilise banks, preventing farms from washing away while improving water quality and habitat,’ Mr Owers said.

‘One of the biggest challenges is finding willing and supportive landowners interested in improving their riverbanks and wetlands.’

Mr Owers announced the completion of restoration work at four sites under the Integrated Sustainable Floodplain Farming project.

At Tatham, Kilgin and Broadwater, a total of 1.3 kilometres of riverbank were rehabilitated with the planting of 4,540 plants, weed control and the installation of 1,926 metres of fencing.

At Kookami Swamp, near Woodburn, works had lifted groundwater levels to high-tide level.

‘A rock weir, incorporating a tapered section to assist fish passage, was installed in Sandy Creek Drain in May to raise the groundwater,’ Mr Owers said.

‘The swamp, containing acid-sulfate soils, was drained in the 1950s and has since become a major exporter of acid water and acid products, such as heavy metals, when pyrite is exposed to the air by lowered groundwater.

‘During summer floods the swamp has also become a major source of blackwater when dry-land pasture species die and are decomposed by bacteria, stripping oxygen from the water, turning it black and killing fish.

‘Raising the groundwater will limit future oxidation of pyrite and encourage flood-tolerant native wetland plants to colonise.

‘The drain also will be fenced to exclude cattle, reducing bank erosion, nutrient input and drowning of cattle, which is currently common and something landholders wish to reduce.’

Mr Owers said thanks must go to all the landowners involved for their commitment to the projects.

All the works were in line with the objectives of the Northern Rivers Catchment Action Plan and the Richmond River Coastal Zone Management Plan and were funded by the Northern Rivers Catchment Management Authority.

For more information, or to nominate your property as a potential wetland or riparian restoration site, contact RRCC floodplain project officer Garry Owers, on 6621 8314.

 


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