June 2023 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 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 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, replanting trees to stabilise the landscape and implementing best practice grazing land management to reduce erosion while increasing farm productivity.

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 30 June 2023 and is measured in tonnes of fine sediment.

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 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:

  • 65km of new fencing erected
  • 10 new water tanks installed
  • 36 new water troughs installed
  • 24km of poly pipe installed
  • 634ha of multi-species improved pasture completed
  • 57 soil samples drilled and analysed to support multi-species improved pastures
  • In-principal support for gully remediation concept designs
  • 4 approved Grazing Land Management plans
  • >$400k of in-kind support invested

Next steps:

  • Deliver detailed design for gully remediation
  • 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): underway
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 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.

Achievments to date:

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

Next steps:

  • Streambank restoration and revegetation at Stanwell due to begin
  • Ongoing monitoring and maintenance at South Yaamba site

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

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:

  • All projects fully endorsed by Great Barrier Reef Foundation & Technical Advisory Group
  • Earthworks and fencing completed at Mt Fairview
  • Seed and mulch applied at Mt Fairview
  • 700 tube stock planted at Mt Fairview
  • 1 off-stream watering point installed at Mt Fairview
  • Approximately 30 small porous check dams (PCDs) were constructed at Tralangie Gullies
  • Minor earthworks and large PCDs constructed at Tralangie Gullies
  • Construction completed at Bowlin Rd
  • Seeding and planting completed at Bowlin Rd
  • Registered Professional Engineer Queensland sign-off received along with as-constructed report for Bowlin Rd
  • Bird nests installed at Bowlin Rd

Next steps:

  • Complete remaining streambank reprofiling
  • Ongoing monitoring
  • Final revegetation and hydro mulching
  • Final fencing
  • Installation of rootballs at the toe of the reprofiled banks

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

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:

  • 5.45km of riparian fencing complete
  • Water tanks and plumbing equipment have been delivered to 4 out of 5 sites
  • 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:

  • Plumbing installations on 4 out of 5 sites due to commence
  • Photo monitoring and finals site visits
  • Finalise landholder and contractor contracts
  • Fencing to commence on site 7
  • Planning for dam development on site 7

Project sites:

Site 3 (riparian fencing and practice change) – underway
Site 4 (riparian fencing and practice change) – underway
Site 5 (riparian fencing and practice change) – underway
Site 6 (riparian fencing and practice change) – underway
Site 7 (riparian fencing and practice change) – underway

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. 

(Photo Credit to Greening Australia)

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

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
  • Specialist training in regenerative cropping practices
  • 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 practices

Project sites:

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

As of June 2023, the total projected sediment savings from this program is 60,231 tonnes per annum. Of this, 58,244 has been endorsed by GBRF and largely implemented by the project teams, with plans for the final 1,987 tonnes expected to be completed later in 2023

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.