Richmond River improvements piloted

The Richmond River estuary at Ballina was rated F in a 2015 Ecohealth report and the overall river received a D-. Photo

The poor water quality of the Richmond River is well known, and is a result of acid sulfate soils and years of agricultural run off.

Large scale fish deaths occurred in the Richmond River in 2001 and 2008.

A trial to improve the river’s health is being piloted, say the NSW department of Primary Industry (DPI), as part of the NSW government’s Marine Estate Management Strategy.

NSW DPI Program Leader Coastal Systems, Marcus Riches said, ‘Over $3.4 million has been invested in the past 18 months to support water quality improvements under the strategy.

‘Part of this funding has been provided to the North Coast Local Land Services, and in 18 months they have delivered 18km of riparian vegetation protection and enhancement activities (fencing, weeding, planting); 600m of bank erosion protection, and a further 900m is underway at Emigrant Creek sub-catchment; and nine upgraded road crossings and the sealing of 4.1 km of gravel roads to reduce sediment input into the Richmond estuary’.

Mr Riches said more works are planned this year.

‘NSW DPI is working with blueberry, greenhouse vegetable and macadamia industries on improving water and nutrient management to reduce off-site water quality and habitat impacts to waterways,’ he said.

‘$150,000 has been provided to assist Rous County Council with coastal floodplain studies to improve water quality outcomes and infrastructure management at the Keith Hall drainage system.

‘The Coastal Drainage Management project will help improve the management of floodplain drainage infrastructure and restoration of coastal floodplain wetlands, to enhance natural water retention and flows, and address poor water quality from acid sulfate soils and low dissolved-oxygen conditions.

‘These projects are unprecedented in NSW, in both their geographic scale and the complexity of issues they are addressing,’ he said.

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