Waterway health programs | Brisbane City Council

Waterway health programs

Brisbane City Council is working to improve the health of our waterways through several programs, including planting water smart street trees, water quality monitoring, natural channel design, creek rehabilitation and more. 

Water quality monitoring

Council monitors the quality of the water at 11 sites in the Brisbane River and sections of Moreton Bay, which have high rates of recreational use. Testing occurs fortnightly during the summer season. Council is also undertaking further studies in Brisbane waterways to further determine the causes of fluctuating microbial contamination.

Find out more about Council's regular water quality monitoring and read the frequently asked questions.

Creek filtration systems

Find out more about how Council has invested $2 million between 2013 and 2016 to install creek filtration systems in catchments across the city to reduce pollutants.

Water Sensitive Urban Design

Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) is Council's watersmart approach to the planning and design of urban environments that supports healthy ecosystems through smart management of water. 

Find out more information on WSUD.

Water smart trees

Council will also plant more than 100 'water smart street trees' in highly urbanised catchments between 2014-18. This project is partially funded by Brisbane City Council and by SEQ Catchments through funding from the Australian Government. The grant has 13 other partners including catchment groups, an Indigenous group and Queensland Urban Utilities. These groups will use grant funding for programs such as waterway restoration, raising community awareness of water health and connecting residents to their local waterways. Find out more information about these projects on SEQ Catchment's 'What's your nature' website.

The water smart trees will be planted using water sensitive urban design (WSUD) principles, enabling stormwater to be diverted through a garden bed to irrigate the tree and filter pollutants from the stormwater system to improve the health of our creeks. Groups of trees will be planted along chosen busy streets to have a greater impact on reducing pollutants, as well as providing increased shade and improved streetscape amenity.

This trial will be delivered in conjunction with Council’s Boulevards and Shadeways program. By incorporating water smart elements into the street tree pit design it is hoped to improve tree survival, support quicker growth and reduce maintenance costs. Opportunities to add water smart street trees as part of other Council programs will be explored in the future. 

Waterway Health Rehabilitation Program

The Waterway Health Rehabilitation Program is one of Brisbane City Council’s initiatives to improve waterway health through a combination of creek rehabilitation, Natural Channel Design and Water Sensitive Urban Design projects in local waterways.

Local waterways provide many benefits to Brisbane communities by: draining stormwater from suburban areas; serving as wildlife corridors through the city; providing habitat for aquatic wildlife; providing water quality benefits for Brisbane River and Moreton Bay; providing opportunities for the community to engage in local wildlife experiences; quiet places of reflection and scenic amenity and helping to identify Brisbane as a clean and green city.

Each year Council dedicates resources towards increasing the liveability of Brisbane by enhancing and rehabilitating local waterways at strategic sites. Sites are promoted and prioritised for construction based on the ability of the completed works to provide high quality habitat and water quality outcomes for Brisbane whilst maximising the benefits to local communities. The program has been in place for 16 years and has delivered a number projects in this time.

Natural channel design (NCD)

Natural channel design is used for a variety of reasons across Brisbane, including:

  • when land, developed for urban use, changes the paths of open, grassed overland flow
  • to help determine minimum corridor widths during planning
  • flood mitigation such as creek diversions, channel widening or changes to vegetation cover
  • rehabilitation of floodways and drainage channels.

You can see an example of natural channel design at Bowman Park on the corner of Bowman Parade and Simpson Road (Cecil Road in between roads) at Bardon.

Ecosystem Health Monitoring Program

The Ecosystem Health Monitoring Program (EHMP) is managed by the Healthy Waterways Ltd on behalf of Council and it's various partners. Healthy Waterways is a not-for-profit, non-government organisation working collaboratively to protect and improve our waterways for future generations to enjoy.

Find out more information from the Healthy Waterways website.

Cabbage Tree Creek report

During 2012 Council and Queensland Urban Utilities (QUU) commissioned a study that investigated bacteria in lower Cabbage Tree Creek.

You can download and read the ten recommendations provided in the Cabbage Tree Creek Recreational Waters Investigation final summary report:

A copy of the full report is available from ​Sandgate Library, ​Chermside Library and ​Brisbane Square Library.

09 October 2018