Quality and Associated Environmentally Relevant Activities
Water Quality Parameters
– Louisa Creek
Fish Survey (Louisa Creek)
Fish Survey (Lakes-Ross Creek)
River Survey (RIVER Group)
region is noted as having significant groundwater resources (unconsolidated
sediments and fractured rock) and these resources have been mapped
for Townsville and Thuringowa, based on aquifer bearing sediments
and rocks (TTSP Natural Resources Management Policy Paper). Mapping
is based on Townsville 1:100,000 geological series maps (DME 1986).
Unconsolidated sediments are considered the best for groundwater
infiltration and storage, and it is considered that groundwater
quality is variable throughout the region (TTSP). Information and
data on the condition of these resources is based on bore hole logs,
yield data and personal experience (TTSP). A detailed analysis of
the condition of groundwater resources is documented in the TTSP
Natural Resources Management Policy Paper (1996) and includes data
on the generalised characteristics of the different aquifers. The
TTSP noted that groundwater extraction rates are exceeding annual
recharge water levels for the areas within Thuringowa (Black and
Alice Rivers – 5,000 mega-litres per annum being extracted). In
the low lying area of Alligator Creek to Nome it is considered that
higher yielding bores can lead to extraction exceeding natural recharge
during drought years.
TTSP also noted high levels of groundwater use in three areas of
Townsville LGA at Alligator-Whites Creek; Woodstock and Middle Ross
River below the dam. This is a potentially serious threat for the
region given the large projected increases in local population over
the next decade and beyond.
Water Quality and Associated Environmentally Relevant Activities
City Council aims to improve the water quality of the local region
in line with the recently released ANZECC Guidelines for water quality.
However, as with many other urban environments across Queensland
and Australia, Townsville City Council has learned that methods
required to manage our urban stormwater are very different from
those employed elsewhere, especially in non-tropical environments
that have very different seasonal weather patterns. At present little
research has been conducted on stormwater quality issues in tropical
urban catchments. Townsville City Council is leading Queensland
in this regard.
currently being gathered will be of great value to all Councils,
communities and environmental engineers. Council recognises that
sound catchment management is required to control the severity of
flooding in urban areas, as well as the need to protect the integrity
of waterways and wetlands.
Source discharges to stormwater are regulated by the EPA and Council
(Environmentally Relevant Activities, Schedule 1 listed under the
Environmental Protection Regulation 1998). So far TCC has licensed
and approved 600 activities (e.g.. motor vehicle workshops; woodworking,
and metal works). These activities have been required to undergo
modification to include separation of activities, removal of risk
of contamination and detailing procedures for spills and contamination.
systems are currently regulated under an agreement between local
government and the Department
of Natural Resources & Mines (Agreement for On-site Disposal
of Septic Sewage). This details requirements for waste disposal
and the minimisation of harm to the environment. However many septic
systems were installed prior to such regulatory requirements and
tropical environments face difficult challenges in managing septic
seepage from disposal systems. Though some contamination is known
to occur from time to time at certain locations (Picnic
Bay and Gustav
Creek) current levels of monitoring make it difficult to determine
cause and effect (ACTFR Gustav
Creek Catchment Study 2000). Monitoring and sample analysis
is also expensive to conduct.
little is known about groundwater extraction issues and rates. The
Department of Natural Resources, Water Resources Division manages
the regional groundwater system. Within Townsville there are currently
no declared areas (TTSP Natural Resources Paper).
condition of waterways and creeks has been recorded at varying scales
for 62 sites (Atlas of Environmental Values - TCC Urban Stormwater
Management Plan 1998) and in both Wetlands
Mapping (ACTFR) and in TTSP (Nature Conservation). Townsville
rivers and catchments are part of both the Ross-Black Catchment
Area and part of the Burdekin-Haughton Catchment Area. One-third
of the Townsville LGA is actually in the Haughton Catchment – Major’s
Creek tributary and Reid
River is in part the City southern boundary.
the Townsville region, works are focused on minimising the impacts
from urban stormwater on local ecosystems and enhancing natural
habitats. The condition of watercourses such as Ross
Plains Creek, Stuart
Creek, Lansdowne Creek, Bohle
River to Cape Pallarenda Foreshore, Gustav
Creek and the Haughton River all exhibit varying degrees of
anthropogenic influences which must be reduced, removed or rehabilitated
(sediment, nutrient and chemical pollution; exotic weeds growth;
and physical bank and bed modifications).
levels of riverbank native vegetation and grasslands exist in our
water catchments and creeks. The following documents (reports and
plans) can be referred to for detailed information on the conditions
there are catchments with high native vegetation condition and little
disturbance in the lower parts of catchments (Killymoon Creek; Stuart
Creek) most areas are highly disturbed outside of creek and
wetland riverbank vegetation. This is in contrast to the hills of
Townsville, which are often close to pristine.
Community Plan for Natural Resource Management in Townsville-Thuringowa
produced by Townsville Thuringowa Landcare Association (TThLCA)
in collaboration with community groups, both Councils and various
State Agencies also has information relating to catchment condition
and issues (Appendix J: Proposed
Catchment Management Units). See below for full Landcare text
- Section 3. Water, Wetlands and Waterways.
Water, Wetlands and Waterways
by Townsville Thuringowa Landcare Association
is also river and creek disconnectivity across the floodplain. For
example the location of the landfill at Reid Park between Ross River
and Ross Creek (see
Ross creek scoping study) that has now reduced integration with
other parts of the river system. Along the Ross River and Alligator
Creek it is also evident that weirs have an adverse impact on environmental
flows and on fish migration between fresh and estuarine habitats.
riverbanks of most local watercourses are steeply inclined in their
upper to middle reaches. River and creek beds are generally sandy
on well major watercourses in Townsville. Sand deposits are evident
on the inside of stream/river meanders and at the intersection of
major rivers and streams (TTSP NRM Policy Paper 1996).
vine is a noxious weed which damages much of the vegetation of inland
waterways. This, along with excessive growth of guinea grass alters
fire patterns and results in late dry season hot fires and subsequent
impact on river health and water quality.
regional water quality conditions are presented in data in a report
on the quality of Queensland waters, prepared by the Environmental
Protection Agency in conjunction with Department
of Natural Resources. The data suggests that water quality within
the Townsville region is good in relation to turbidity, dissolved
oxygen, conductivity and nutrient loading. Water quality research
undertaken at sites in Cleveland Bay, Gustav Creek, Horseshoe Bay,
the Bohle River and other sites within the region indicate that
water quality complies with current guidelines.
EPA water quality monitoring ran for 7 years with stations visited
monthly in the Ross River estuary (two stations) and the Bohle
River (five stations). EPA funding priorities changed and program
finished in 2001. There were no distinct trends in the Ross River
estuary, however, there were big improvements in the Bohle River
as a result of upstream landuse changes. Click here to see EPA water quality graphs.
here to see location
of EPA water quality monitoring sites
Gustav Creek. Water
quality at Gustav Creek has been detailed a Catchment
Study (ACTFR 2000) with the following results:
and naturally rises at end of dry season;
with wet/dry tropical streams of NQ with occasional elevations
to Phospherous ratios:
indicate subsurface inputs from domestic irrigation; car washing;
and grey water with occasional evidence of surface inputs
such as detergents – however values fall within the range
of natural processes with occasional extreme values which
are of concern although there is currently insufficient information
to determine their cause);and
significant concentrations indicate widespread diffuse inputs
or at least multiple sources i.e. Septic systems).
has been concluded from available water quality data that bacteriological
pathogen levels of Gustav Creek are quite satisfactory for most
of the year and certainly do not represent a health risk for residents
in secondary contact recreational activities (A.Hesse, 2000). It
has also been noted that high faecal coliform concentrations are
often encountered in tropical creeks and smaller waterways in particular
during prolonged dry weather/and or after initial wet season rains.
High pathogen counts are not restricted to urban environments but
are also observed in protected areas such as Bowling Green Bay National
Park (A. Hesse, 2000), which demonstrates that even pristine aquatic
environments are subject to natural polluting events given the right
climatic and environmental conditions.
numerous undesirable events have occurred within the Lakes development
in recent years. High levels of nitrogen and phosphorus enter the
lakes system during rainfall events. With large rainfall events
in both 1998 and 2002, algae blooms occurred, with dissolved oxygen
levels being significantly affected. This changes the chemical dynamics
of the system and can cause catastrophic events, such as large fish
kills. Under these conditions the quality of the whole system suffers
and as such, both short and long term remediation and monitoring
is required. Council has undertaken significant remedial work in
an attempt to mitigate these types of impacts. The use of activated
carbon removes nutrients from the water and improves water quality.
Monitoring is being undertaken, and current investigations are being
conducted which aim to minimise these types of events in future
Ross Creek. Ross
Creek Scoping Study
determined that there was historic pollution to Ross Creek resulting
from the development of the port and river. The study also demonstrated
the importance of the remaining mangroves as fish habitat and sediment
Creek is now the focus of the CBD Urban Renewal project and with
the attention in this project being directed back towards the waterway
CBD Master Plan). A CBD Review of Environmental Factors has
been produced and details environmental considerations relating
to the CBD and Ross Creek in particular.
Creek is an urban waterway receiving substantial volumes of urban
run off. It retains remnant riverbank native vegetation, good creek
bank condition and fish habitat despite being significantly modified
(straightened and channelled). Water quality is generally good (SKM
2000 & Skene 1999) except for dissolved oxygen, which is often
low in the late dry season (Skene 1999). Despite tall native melaleuca
trees the creek is degraded by exotic grass (para-grass). As urbanisation
has replaced agriculture and grazing, this grass has become prevalent.
Water Quality Parameters – Louisa Creek
TCC Laboratory, Douglas (Cited in SKM Hydraulic Upgrade Environmental
results fall within ANZECC guidelines, conductivity can be low due
to wet season rains and would be expected to be higher at end of
dry season. Total nitrogen concentrations range from 0.4 mg/L to
3.9 mg/L which is an order of magnitude greater than expected for
"pristine" coastal freshwater aquatic systems. However
SKM (2000) considered that such levels are consistent with partially
degraded freshwater systems such as Louisa Creek.
Skene (1999) JCU School of Engineering Honours Thesis
Macro-invertebrates (Louisa Creek)
were sampled once, post-wet season by Skene (1999). 12 samples were
collected from two sites and four habitats. The number of families
collected per site ranged from 4 to 15 with an overall total of
34. The number of individuals ranged from 24 to 237. The level of
variation between samples was common. The families collected reflected
the predominant habitat sampled, that is, slow or still water amongst
vegetation. Most invertebrates were surface dwelling or commonly
associated with vegetation, and found in pools or temporary water
two bed samples from coarse sand showed low diversity and high abundance
which suggested some form of impact to researchers. The SKM report
considered that this might be true, particularly with regard to
low dissolved oxygen level, but considered that one would also expect
the taxa to be most abundant in this habitat. It was noted that
chirominds are often the most abundant group in pristine systems.
The fact that the mudwhelks were found only at site 6 along Louisa
Creek was considered odd, and perhaps reflecting greater aquatic
plant abundance. Insects studied were found in surprising low numbers
and this was considered to reflect the very low dissolved oxygen
levels and lack of leaf litter (ie. Poor riverbank tree diversity
compared to exotic grasses – paragrass). This was probably based
on observational data as the area has a high exotic grass cover
with little leaf producing tree diversity and abundance.
Fish Survey (Louisa Creek)
1999 recorded a total of nine fish species (five native and four
exotic). Skene made observations of large schools of Tilapia and
caught natives Rainbow fish (Melanotenia splendida), Spangled
Perch (Leipotherapon unicolor), Glass perch (Ambassis
spp), at Tarpon at different locations within Louisa Creek.
Skene captured one turtle and large ones are often observed in upper
Louisa Creek and middle. Barramundi have been recorded in Louisa
Creek and this was confirmed with the death of 20 found following
a natural fish kill in January 2002 (V.Vetch pers. com.) and a further
8 fish in December 2002. Exotic fish captured besides Talapia included
mosquito fish and guppy.
presence of Tarpon, Barramundi and sign of Long-fined eel (Skene
1999) demonstrate connectivity to the coast.
Fish Survey (Lakes-Ross Creek)
fish survey of both lakes and Ross creek found (see tables)
Ross River Survey (RIVER Group)
based research by the RIVER Group has also made a valuable contribution.
This research, supported by Townsville City Council, added to scientific
knowledge on important matters including the condition of important
breeding colonies for birds and flying foxes, the condition of riverbank
vegetation communities, the health of rivers as reflected in the
distribution and prevalence of mudwhelks and other molluscs, and
the number of fish species and their distribution. This provided
important scientific information not previously recorded.
helped to raise awareness about the high environmental values of
certain places (eg. the Ibis, Egret and Flying Fox roosting and
breeding colony amongst the mangroves on the south bank of the Ross
River). It also helped to involve Townsville residents in important
hands-on environmental works. Finally, RIVER also produced a series
of Field Guides which can help local residents and planners alike
to better appreciate and factor into their activities the environmental
values in the river habitats of Townsville.
Jellyfish - Townsville
jellyfish are little known and found in slow flowing waterways,
small ponds, man-made reservoirs, dams, and ornamental fish ponds.
Typically found in the summer months in all continents and throughout
SE Asia - it is considered that they are likely to occur in the
dry tropics of Townsville. A study and assessment of their occurance
is now underway by a JCU researcher - Lisa Gershwin. For more information
and contacts see web
page on freshwater jellyfish.