An Update: The Fitzroy Water Quality Program

The Great Barrier Reef Foundations (GBRF) Fitzroy Water Quality Program aims to stop 50,000 tonnes of fine sediment from the Fitzroy basin reaching the Reef’s waters every year.

The program is a $19.6 million investment under the Reef Trust Partnership to build the resilience of the Great Barrier Reef by helping to reduce one of the most significant threats to the Reef – poor water quality caused by sediment run-off.

The program managed by GBRF, is coordinated by FBA and delivered by Catchment Solutions, FBA, Greening Australia and Verterra. Comprised of a series of projects, the sediment reduction target will be met by working with land managers to improve landscape function through the remediation of degraded land using Gully and streambank rehabilitation methods and adding trees in to grazing systems.

Watch the video below to learn how land managers impact the health of the Great Barrier Reef.

How farmers impact the health of the Great Barrier Reef

The below project snapshot is as of 7 November 2022 and is measured in tonnes of fine sediment.

The Fitzroy Alliance Gully Rehabilitation Project for Reef Water Quality

Verterra/Fitzroy Alliance $5M

Sediment saving target: 18,656 tonnes per year
Project status: underway
Works location:
Morinish, Bushley, Westwood/Gogango & Kalapa
Works: This project is working across five CQ properties to implement cost-effective ways to stop fine sediment run-off into the Fitzroy River catchments. Activities include working with land managers to improve grazing land management practices and the remediation of active gully erosion sites. 

Achievements to date:

  • 30 new water troughs installed
  • >13km of poly pipe installed
  • 26km if electric fencing erected
  • 110ha of pasture improvement
  • Developed concept designs for gully remediation
  • 2 approved Grazing Land management plans
  • Flown drone-mounted multispectral imagery and drilled soil samples for pasture renovation

Next steps:

  • Finalise remaining 3 grazing land management plans
  • Deliver detailed design for gully remediation
  • Implement more on-ground works, including practice change and pasture renovation
  • Organise field day to showcase practice change activities & improvements
  • Monitor and evaluate land condition improvements and sediment reduction

Project sites:

Big House (gully repair): underway
Calliweera (practice change): underway
Moonkan Park (practice change): underway
Montevideo (practice change): underway
Towarra (practice change): underway

2. FBA Sediment Reduction in the Fitzroy

Fitzroy Basin Association $5.1M

Sediment saving target: 24, 285 tonnes per year
Project status: South Yaamba site complete (23,368 tonnes saved), Stanwell site underway
Works location: South Yaamba & Stanwell
Works: Restore streambanks, combine works of managing or excluding stock, strategic earthwork, installing infrastructure and revegetation.

Site 8 at South Yaamba

Achievments to date:

  • 980m of riverbank stabilised
  • 23,368 tonnes of fine sediment stopped from entering the Fitzroy
  • Nesting habitat protected for critically endangered White-throated Snapping Turtle and Fitzroy River Turtle
  • At least 25 locals upskilled
  • 94 Jobs created in the region
  • Collaboration between local suppliers and contractors
  • High flood event cattle retreat with water and feed
  • Improved resilience for the local ecosystem
  • Over $200,000 of specialised machinery secured in the region
  • Improved pest management

Next steps:

  • Streambank restoration and revegetation at Stanwell due to begin

Project sites:

Site 8 (Lower Fitzroy streambank stabilisation project at South Yaamba)complete
Stanwell (streambank stabilisation) – underway

3. Streambank and gully erosion solutions for the Fitzroy Catchment

Catchment Solutions $3.4M

Sediment saving target: 7,492 tonnes per year
Project status: underway
Works location: Ridgelands, Port Curtis, Alton Downs & Yaamba
Works: Gully and streambank restoration. The project also aims to establish porous check dams, contour banks, diversion banks and gully and instream structures to reduce the amount of sediment running off into the Reef.

Achievements to date:

  • Held an information forum and field day for this project
  • Delivered a detailed design for one project
  • Continued minor earthworks at the Wycarbah site
  • Awarded a contract for earthworks at the Morinish Riverbank site

Next steps:

  • Complete construction at three sites (Morinish Riverbank, Bowlin Road and Wycarbah)
  • Deliver a detailed design for the remaining project at Yaamba

Project sites:

Mt Fairview (streambank restoration) – underway
Bowlin Rd (streambank restoration) – underway
Yaamba (streambank restoration) – underway
Tralangie Gullies (gully rehabilitation) – underway

4. Water quality improvements in the Fitzroy and Mackenzie river catchments

Fitzroy Basin Association $1.7M

Sediment saving target: 8,095 tonnes per year
Project status: underway
Works location: South Yaamba, Alton Downs, Canoona & Mornish South
Works: This project aims to improve riparian zones, implement practice change and complete erosion control activities to allow ground cover to regenerate.

Achievements to date:

  • Sites identified
  • Planning Complete
  • Approval received from GBRF to commence on ground work

Next steps:

  • Gain contractor access to sites
  • Finalise quotes
  • Install 8 new troughs
  • Install 8km of riparian barbed-wire fencing
  • Work due to start late 2022/ early 2023

Project sites:

Site 3 (riparian fencing and practice change) – underway
Site 4 (riparian fencing and practice change) – in planning
Site 5 (riparian fencing and practice change) – in planning
Site 6 (riparian fencing and practice change) – in planning
Site 8a (riparian fencing and practice change) – in planning

5. Mackenzie water quality program

Greening Australia $1M

Sediment saving target: 1,144 tonnes per year
Project status: underway
Works location: Woorabinda & Duaringa (traditional lands of the Barada Kabalbara Yetimarala People, Gaangalu Nation people and Wadja people.) Mackenzie and Dawson River Catchment areas, Fitzroy River Basin.
Works: Practice change is being implemented to address sediment runoff from grazing and farming lands. Working with the traditional owners, the practice change plans implement processes that enable re-establishment of connection to Country through integrating regenerative farming practices with traditional management and care. 

Training being conducted in the field on regenerative grazing techniques with the Woorabinda Rangers (photo credit to Greening Australia)

Achievements to date:

  • Properties Identified
  • Multi day Indigenous Grazing for Profit workshop conducted by RCS
  • Practice change Property Management Plan and 22 action items finalised

Next steps:

  • Support the implementation of on-ground practice change actions
  • Installation of key water points and fencing to enable more sustainable grazing operations across the properties.

Project sites:

Dawsonvale (practice change) – in planning
Foleyvale (practice change) – in planning
Stoney Ck (practice change) – in planning
Woorabinda (practice change) – in planning
Leishvale (practice change) – in planning
Zamia (practice change) – in planning

As of 7 November 2022 these projects have a combined endorsed total of 37,668 tonnes of fine sediment. This program will continue to run until June 2024 so stay tuned for future project updates.

The Fitzroy Water Quality Program is funded by the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation with support from Fitzroy Basin Association, Greening Australia, Verterra and Catchment Solutions.