The 2019 International Riversymposium (Oct 20-24, Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre) marked the launch of a $1 million project led by Griffith University to make catchment areas more resilient to extreme weather events and environmental changes.
Griffith’s Australian Rivers Institute (ARI) was awarded the $1 million funding over four years from philanthropic body the Ian Potter Foundation into ARI-developed tool, the Building Catchment Resilience Project.
The project is backed by a consortium, led by ARI, and includes the Queensland University of Technology, Queensland Government, Water Technology, Queensland Urban Utilities, Seqwater, Port of Brisbane, Healthy Land and Water, SEQ Council of Mayors and Lockyer Valley Regional Council.
The Building Catchment Resilience Project builds on years of collaborative research in the South East Queensland region to pilot innovative world-leading investment prioritisation models, digital planning, visualisation tools and animations to explore realistic scenarios of catchments.
ARI Director Professor Stuart Bunn said the Building Catchment Resilience Project would help facilitate discussions between investors and the community, and guide investment that maximises the benefits of catchment works in terms of flood mitigation, biodiversity, water quality and waste assimilation.
“The ‘Catchment Resilience’ project aims to showcase how to tackle the problems at their source in the upper catchment where the greatest impacts can be achieved. These benefits can extend to protection of public assets and can even save lives,” Professor Bunn said.
“For 15 years ARI’s research projects have been building knowledge to identify the cause of the problem, what actions are effective and where they will have the greatest benefit.
“Targeted investment such as this can help minimise the effects of extreme weather on our catchments, reduce sediment dispersion throughout rivers and bays, reduce nutrient loss of agricultural farmland and decrease flood risks that damage public and private infrastructure.
“Major industries and public utilities that operate downstream to catchment areas are beginning to see the benefits of investing in projects upstream that aim to reduce sediment and nutrient load, and lower costs to their operations.”
As a tool, the Building Catchment Resilience Project has been developed and demonstrated in the Laidley Catchment in South East Queensland with an on-ground research and monitoring component.
Professor Bunn said the tool would be further developed to use in other catchment settings nationally and overseas.
Globally, many of the catchments that provide essential food and water resource