Permanent floating reed beds are being installed in the Banora Point Western Drainage System to improve water quality.
Permanent floating reed beds are being installed in the Banora Point Western Drainage System to improve water quality.

Council invests into floating islands to help water quality

WOULD you believe Tweed council is about to enter the island building business?

No, these islands are not an answer to future residential flooding but are instead being constructed to improve water quality.

These permanent floating reed beds have been installed in the Banora Point Western Drainage System, off the back of a successful trial.

Tweed Shire Council contractors SPEL Environmental finished putting in the first series of beds last week before being rained out.

The $236,000 project will cover 600sq m of waterway and once the weather fines up workers will return to complete the three-week

install behind Ron Wilkinson Sports Field on Fraser Drive.

The beds are made from recycled plastic and will be planted with native reeds, sedges and herbs.

Roads and stormwater manager Danny Rose said the reed beds site was chosen because it was a straight, narrow section of drain located downstream of the main urban catchment.

"This lets us treat a greater portion of the flows through the system before it reaches Vintage Lakes," he said.

"The water in this area is often poor quality as it takes a lot of run-off from the surrounding residential housing and can carry high amounts of sediment and nutrient.

"As such, it's also a stretch prone to noxious aquatic weeds."

Mr Rose explained as the reed bed plants draw on the excess nutrients, their roots grow to one metre or more through the water column and trap sediment - functioning like a naturally occurring floating island in a wetland or lake system.

The reed beds will also provide habitat for a range of wildlife including fish and water birds. Temporary bird mesh will be used to stop the birds damaging the young plants while they establish.

The Western Drainage System discharges into the Terranora Broadwater, which is classified as a State-significant coastal lake and important fish breeding and migratory bird area.

Tweed mayor Katie Milne said even though the waterway was classified as a drain for the surrounding development, the community and the council wanted to see it in a healthy state with flourishing marine and bird life for all to enjoy.

Workers will maintain the floating islands for 12 months to ensure the plants are successfully established and the beds remain afloat and anchored in place.

The 36-square metre trial bed will be retained.

In 2017, the council voted to inject more than $750,000 into improving the health of the drainage system by undertaking structural changes to remove shallow points in the system, increase weed removal, extend the floating reed bed system and involve the community in revegetation.

Under the direction of Conservation Volunteers Australia, the community has planted small clusters of approved native species and removed rubbish and weeds, while learning about the role of the drainage system.

For more information, see tweed.nsw.gov.au/BanoraPointDrainageScheme



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