With its grey-green water and muddy banks, the Brisbane River hasn’t been winning any awards for clarity or beauty lately , however all that might be changing as the river reaches its cleanest levels since the 2013 floods.
According to a study by Healthy Waterways and Catchments, the Brisbane River received an underwhelming health rating of C- last year, citing issues with runoff sediments deposited in the river from the 2011 and 2013 floods.
However, Griffith University Professor of water science Jon Olley, is confident the river is once again returning to previously ideal conditions, finding that much of the foreign sediment is beginning to find its way downstream and into Moreton Bay.
“If you look at areas now that were completely muddy at the time, the Kangaroo Point beach is a good example, it was completely covered in mud,” he said.
“Well that is now clean sand.”
The 2011 and 2013 floods no doubt devastated many waterfront properties and businesses, though while those affected slowly rebuilt and moved on, the river continued to suffer from heavy pollutants and debris washed into the river after waters receded – and it is only now – within the last few months – that the river is on the mend.
“We haven’t had significant rain for a while now and whenever we don’t have rain in the catchments, the river cleans up quite a bit,” Professor Olley explained.
The new blue tinge to the river is a welcome sight for many Brisbane locals with riverside resident Calvin Thomas noticing the clearer water and whiter sand.
“Where once there was silt and mud covering the shoreline there is now have clean beaches outside my house.” Calvin said.
“It’s nice to know the river can handle whatever is thrown at it given enough time.”
However according to Healthy Waterways and Catchments, there is still a long way to go, as erosion and industrial runoff still plague the river with pollutants and unwanted chemicals.
“Over 50,000 dump trucks worth of sediment enters the region’s waterways each year,” representative of Healthy Waterways and Catchments, Julie McLellan said.
“Sediment runoff from rural and urban areas remains a critical issue.”
This year Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull promised a $760,000 initiative to help clean up the river, including $70,000 to remove sediment run-off at Teneriffe Park.
The next Healthy Waterways Report on the Brisbane River is due to be released next month.