January 2024 Update: The Fitzroy Water Quality Program

The Great Barrier Reef Foundation’s 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 partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation (GBRF). It is building the resilience of the Great Barrier Reef.

The program is managed by the Foundation, 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, replanting trees to stabilise the landscape and implementing best practice grazing land management to reduce erosion while increasing farm productivity.

The total projected sediment savings from this program is 60,231 tonnes per annum. Of this, 58,244 has been endorsed by the Foundation and largely implemented by the project teams, with plans for the final 1,987 tonnes expected to be completed later in 2024.

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.

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

The below project snapshot is as of December 30 2023 and is measured in tonnes of fine sediment.

1. The Fitzroy Alliance Gully Rehabilitation Project for Reef Water Quality

Verterra/Fitzroy Alliance $5M

Projected sediment savings: 18,809 tonnes per year
Project status: underway
Works location: 
Morinish, Bushley, Westwood/Gogango & Kalapa
Works: This project is working across five central Queensland properties to implement cost-effective ways to stop fine sediment run-off into the Fitzroy River and Great Barrier Reef. Activities include working with land managers to improve grazing land management practices and the remediation of active gully erosion sites. 

Achievements to date:

  • 127.5km of new fencing erected
  • 24 new water tanks installed
  • 69 new water troughs installed
  • 60.5km of poly pipe installed
  • 749ha of multi-species improved pasture completed
  • 63 soil samples drilled and analysed to support multi-species improved pastures
  • In-principal support for gully remediation detailed designs
  • 4 approved Grazing Land Management plans
  • >$600k of in-kind support co-invested

Next steps:

  • Deliver gully remediation works – early 2024
  • Continue to implement on-ground works, including practice change, improved pasture and landscape repair
  • Organise field day to showcase practice change activities and 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): completed
  • Montevideo (practice change): underway
  • Towarra (practice change): underway

2. FBA Sediment Reduction in the Fitzroy

Fitzroy Basin Association $5.1M

Projected sediment savings: 24,211 tonnes per year
Project status: South Yaamba site completed (23,368 tonnes saved), Stanwell site underway (expected to save 654 tonnes per year)
Works location: South Yaamba & Stanwell
Works: Restore streambanks, combine works of managing or excluding stock, strategic earthwork, installing infrastructure and revegetation.

Achievements to date:

  • Site 8 completed
  • Cultural surveys completed
  • Flora and fauna surveys completed
  • Geotechnical and soil tests completed

Next steps:

  • Commence streambank restoration and revegetation at Stanwell
  • Includes streambank restoration through reprofiling banks, installing footer logs and root balls, planting, irrigating, stock exclusion etc.
  • Monitoring until 30th June 2024
  • Ongoing monitoring and maintenance at South Yaamba site

Project sites:

  • Site 8 Lower Fitzroy streambank stabilisation project at South Yaamba: completed
  • Stanwell (streambank stabilisation): underway

3. Streambank and gully erosion solutions for the Fitzroy Catchment

Catchment Solutions $3.4M

Projected sediment savings: 7,695 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 run-off into the Reef.

Achievements to date:

  • Over 2000 tubestock planted at Bowlin Road
  • Widespread natural propagation of mangroves observed at Bowlin Road as a result of the installation of log fillet structures
  • Yaamba streambank earthworks and installation of rootballs completed with RPEQ sign off and As-constructed report received
  • Hydromulching and seeding completed at Yaamba
  • Livestock exclusion fencing installed at Yaamba
  • 400 tubestock planted at Yaamba

Next steps:

  • Replant tubestock at Mt Fairview where high mortality occurred due to low rainfall
  • Continue plantings at Yaamba and Bowlin Road
  • On-going post wet season and post dry season performance monitoring

Project sites:

  • Bowlin Road (streambank restoration): underway
  • Mt Fairview Station (streambank restoration): underway
  • Yaamba (streambank restoration): underway
  • Tralangie (gully rehabilitation): underway

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

Fitzroy Basin Association $1.7M

Projected sediment savings: 8,372 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:

  • All works completed
  • 5.45km of riparian fencing completed
  • All sites supplied with water by FBA
  • Plans are in place to reduce stocking rates at Site 4, 5 and 6 and wet season spelling will be implemented regularly to reduce grazing pressure on these sites

Next steps:

  • maintenance and monitoring program running until 30th June 2024

Project sites:

  • Site 3 (riparian fencing and practice change): completed
  • Site 4 (riparian fencing and practice change): completed
  • Site 5 (riparian fencing and practice change): completed
  • Site 6 (riparian fencing and practice change): completed
  • Site 7 (riparian fencing and practice change): completed

5. Mackenzie water quality program

Greening Australia $1M

Projected sediment savings: 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 run-off 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. 

Achievements to date:

  • Multi-day Indigenous Grazing for Profit workshop conducted by RCS
  • Practice change Property Management Plan and 22 action items finalised
  • 8,932ha of practice change improvements
  • 6.8km of fencing
  • Stock flows, feed budgeting and business integration of practice change processes embedded into the business model and plan
  • Data tracking and software management of farming and grazing practice changes brought in to manage 36,130ha of cropping and grazing land
  • Fencing along the Mackenzie river to exclude stock from riparian areas commenced
  • Purchase of alternative water infrastructure

Next steps:

  • Installation of tanks, troughs, pumps and pipe assemblies to support greater pasture utilisation
  • Installation of more fencing to facilitate more rotational grazing
  • Pasture restoration across 300ha
  • Continue LCAT monitoring to confirm the ongoing success of practice changes into the future
  • Ongoing training for all staff and management in improved grazing and farming practice

Project sites:

  • Foleyvale (practice change): underway
  • Stoney Creek (practice change): underway
  • Woorabinda (practice change): underway
  • Leishvale (practice change): underway
  • Zamia (practice change): underway