Labor will help save Torquay's Karaaf WetlandsMedia Release
An Albanese Labor Government will commit $1.9 million to the Karaaf Wetlands Restoration project to the north of Torquay, as part of Labor’s Urban Rivers and Catchments Program.
The Karaaf Wetlands refurbishment and extension of the ponds, lakes and weirs across the north of Torquay will result in improved retention and filtering of stormwater run-off.
Labor’s $200 million Urban Rivers and Catchments Program will fund projects, such as that in the Karaaf Wetlands, right across the country to fix up and restore our urban rivers and catchments for Australians to enjoy.
Australia’s local parks and reserves don’t just provide precious habitat, they are also a place for people to enjoy the natural environment.
Fixing up our waterways and the catchment areas around them, will give people access to a better quality of living and will help protect threatened plants and animals.
The proposed north Torquay refurbishment will improve the overall natural function of the Karaaf Wetlands, by reducing the amount of pollutants, or potential for pollutants, to reach environmentally significant areas.
This 320 hectares of wild, open country is a hyper saline saltmarsh, whose salt adapted vegetation is important to a wide range of species, including the migratory waders from North Asia and the Orange Bellied Parrot.
In addition, the Karaaf Wetlands is recognised as one of the region’s most productive carbon sinks.
The Karaaf Wetlands is also currently the subject of an application to be included for protection as a RAMSAR site of international importance.
Today’s announcement supports planning by the local Sands Estate community, the Surf Coast Shire, the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority, Barwon Water and the Great Ocean Road Coast and Parks Authority.
Only a Labor Government will restore Australia’s urban rivers and catchments.
The Karaaf wetlands form the Eastern boundary of Torquay and extend down to the Thompson Creek at Point Impossible where they are joined by the Breamlea Flora and Fauna Reserve.
This 320 hectares of wild, open country is a hyper saline saltmarsh, whose salt adapted vegetation is important to a wide range of species, including the migratory waders from North Asia and the critically endangered Orange Bellied Parrot.
The Karaaf is also recognised as one of the region’s most productive carbon sinks.
World-leading scientists at Deakin University have shown “blue carbon” sinks sequester carbon in our wetlands 30 to 40 times the value of terrestrial carbon stored in our forests. The Karaaf is one of our gold nugget carbon sinks.
Significantly, once these high-quality carbon sinks die, they emit large amounts of methane, discharging the CO2 we desperately need to contain.
Tragically, our region has already suffered the largest loss of saltmarsh area in the entire state – equivalent to 5,666 soccer fields in area. This loss of saltmarsh would have severely diminished the capacity of the Corangamite region to act as a carbon sink.
Indeed, it’s estimated the loss of saltmarsh from Breamlea alone has triggered release of 1.3 million tonnes of CO2-equivalents to the atmosphere – that’s equivalent to the emissions of the entire Corangamite population over an eight-year period!
The importance of the area is underlined by the fact that the Karaaf has been included in an application for a major extension of the Bellarine’s renowned RAMSAR wetlands, which would give it the highest level of international protection.
The stormwater run-off into the Karaaf Wetlands results from the housing developments in The Sands, The Quay, The Dunes and Stretton – all part of the designated north Torquay growth node in the Surf Coast Region.
The Karaaf’s sensitive saline environment is supposed to be protected by a series of ponds, lakes and weirs designed filter and retain stormwater run-off.
However, according to all the experts in this area, these ponds, lakes and weirs are not fit for purpose. They were too small to begin with, have now silted up, further reducing capacity, and they need to be totally renovated and extended.
In many areas sedimentation in water retention areas means only a small fraction of the original stormwater volumes are being retained.
The Sands Owners Corporation commissioned Water Technology (a highly respected consultancy firm which specialises in this area of study) in early 2021 to provide a report on the hydrology of the North Torquay catchment and the impact of stormwater on the Karaaf Wetlands.
The key findings were:
- The feeder wetlands to the Karaaf (contained in the The Sands, The Quay, The Dunes, Zeally Sands and Stretton) were delivering 1,393 ML of stormwater which was 918ML above pre development levels. This was causing significant dieback in the Karaaf’s saltmarsh vegetation.
- The stormwater was polluted because the developer wetlands were significantly undersized for the volumes of stormwater being processed and all the wetlands except for the Sands were very poorly maintained and therefore unable to function effectively.
Professor Peter Breen, from the Faculty of Design and Architecture at Monash University – a recognised authority in stormwater management, has said:
“The Dunes Wetland needs a major reset to even approach best practice performance…(and further) “Without some major intervention, increasing stormwater runoff to the Karaaf Wetlands will continue to reduce saltmarsh communities.”
Labor’s commitment of $1.9 million will facilitate a major renovation / extension of the Dunes / Stretton / Quay filtration wetlands to ensure we achieve Best Practice Urban Stormwater Environment Management Guidelines.
It will help save the Karaaf Wetlands.Share Tweet