South East Queensland waterways will be better protected from drought and floods thanks to the Resilient Rivers initiative, launched by the Council of Mayors (SEQ) and the State Government in Brisbane today.
The initiative, launched by Council of Mayors (SEQ) Chairman and Brisbane Lord Mayor Councillor Graham Quirk, Lockyer Valley Mayor Steve Jones, Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection the Hon Andrew Powell MP and Minister for Natural Resources and Mines the Hon Andrew Cripps MP, will develop one plan integrating the economic, environmental and social aspects of waterway management in SEQ.
Cr Quirk said the recent record droughts and devastating floods were still being felt deep in the region’s heart.
“While a number of organisations should be praised for their efforts and investment in catchment management, these activities have tended to be fragmented. The extreme weather we have experienced recently has highlighted that we need to do better,” Cr Quirk said.
“The Resilient Rivers initiative will combine the collective wisdom of our councils and the region’s waterways organisations to develop a long term management plan for our waterways, something that hasn’t been done before.”
Recent natural disasters tragically cost lives, the community bore the brunt of a $1 billion reconstruction bill and Brisbane residents were faced with the real prospect of running out of drinking water when silt from the Lockyer Valley threatened the Mt Crosby plant which supplies 40 per cent of the region’s water.
“We faced the prospect of not having access to drinking water in parts of our city and region, something we should never have to worry about and this is why the Resilient Rivers initiative is so important,” said Cr Quirk.
“An agreement between all of the key organisations with an interest in catchment management in SEQ has been signed showing a united and coordinated approach to looking after our catchments.
“This is an exciting project and I look forward to working with our Mayors, the government and our signatory organisations to make this plan a reality.”
The signatories are Council of Mayors (SEQ), Seqwater, Healthy Waterways, SEQ Catchments, Unitywater, and Queensland Urban Utilities.
Lockyer Valley Mayor Steve Jones recognised that important work had already been done across the region by Councils and waterways organisations but reiterated that a coordinated approach was needed.
“Unfortunately, there have been too many groups with too many plans, which has resulted in some short term wins but no real long term gains,” Cr Jones said.
“In the Lockyer Valley we must work to keep the dirt on the paddock and out of the waterways so our farming land remains productive and our water supply does not get compromised again.
“It is time for a cohesive action plan to ensure our waterways are resilient and can hold up under the pressures of extreme weather.
“Personally, the 2011 and 2013 floods were two of the most devastating events I have experienced and it is certainly not something I want anyone in our region to go through again.”
Mayor Jones added that the future growth of the region would be determined by the decisions being made now, at all three levels of government, about the catchments.
“The ultimate objective of this project is protecting our residents, our drinking water, our farm lands, beaches, bays, pastures and infrastructure for the current and future generations of South East Queenslanders.”