New York shows the way!
In the early 1990's New York City was very concerned about the decrease in water quality due to archaic land use practices upstream from the city.
New York could have built a $6 billion water treatment plant, but instead they agreed to fund upstream farmers to restore waterways and improve infrastructure to deal with their own pollution at the source. This project cost only $35 million.
As a result NYC has saved billions and New Yorkers have clean water. But there's more! Farm productivity and income has increased and the watershed in the Catskill Mountains is protected. Everybody wins!
Keeping the Bay Safe
Its easier, cheaper and quicker to stop pollution getting into waterways and the Bay than trying to clean them up later. Fortunately recent studies have made it clear where the pollution is coming from and how to target areas to get the best bang for our buck.
It would be very easy to solve the problem if all the pollution came from one place. Sadly that's not the case. The sources of pollution can be grouped into three major areas, Urban Development, Stormwater and Rural Land Use.
What is needed is a series of of complementary policies, investments, regulations and market mechanisms that all pull together to restore the health of waterways and Moreton Bay.
In the City
New developments, like the satellite cities planned for Brisbane, need to be designed with water in mind. Water Sensitive Urban Design can significantly reduce pollution from households, road runoff and pollution from industrial or commercial operations.
Any pollution which cannot be avoided will attract an 'offset charge' per tonne of pollution.
Slow the flow
Creeks across South East Queensland have been converted to little more than storm drains - empty when it's dry and raging torrents when it rains! This runoff flushes tonnes of pollutants into Moreton Bay. Rehabilitation of creeks across SEQ will slow the flow of water back to more natural rates and reduce excess runoff from our cities' hard surfaces.
The health of our waterways cannot be assured without significant efforts to undo the damage caused by over 150 years of land use change.
Farmers and other rural landholders need support, advice and direct assistance to protect and repair riverside vegetation, set up buffer zones, keep animals out of waterways and change other damaging practices. (See New York shows the way!)
Healthy Waterways, Healthy Bay, Healthy People
So where do we go from here?
What government must do...
As the cause of problems affecting waterways is spread across the entire SEQ region, the Queensland government has a responsibility to provide leadership and ongoing financial resources to improve the health of the Bay.
State government must introduce a Save the Bay program and provide funding and regulation to continue environmental restoration and monitoring programs.
This program can then be used as a template for other Queensland regions facing similar problems.
What stakeholders must do...
Returning waterways to healthy condition is in everybody's best interest – particularly businesses that rely on Moreton Bay.
Businesses that commercially benefit from the Bay should be required to contribute towards restoring the health of waterways Businesses that contribute towards the degradation of waterways must pay - or act - to fix the problems they have caused
Landholders and catchment groups must be funded to restore damaged waterways and improve future practices that impact on waterway health.
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