Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability
The Honourable Kate Jones
Friday, January 28, 2011
Test results have confirmed Oxley Creek in Brisbane’s southern suburbs has suffered a major blow as result of massive flooding in the area.
Climate Change and Sustainability Minister Kate Jones said water quality results showed very high levels of enterococci, an indicator of faecal contamination as a result of sewerage overflow.
“Queensland Urban Utilities Oxley Sewage Treatment plant suffered major damage in recent flooding with significant impacts on its treatment capacity,” Ms Jones said.
“Test results show levels of enterococci just downstream of the sewage plant at Oxley Creek Common are over 250 times higher than typical levels.
“This is a devastating result for the people who have worked so hard to build the resilience of this iconic local waterway.”
Queensland Health has reiterated its advice that, due to the sewage contamination, the community should take all precautions to avoid any contact with this water.
Queensland Health advise that until the sewage treatment infrastructure is repaired and the disinfection processes are restored at the sewage treatment plant, the contamination of the creek and risk to human health will continue to remain high.
Healthy Waterways CEO Peter Schneider said the sewage contamination will limit recreational opportunities to the waterways of South East Queensland including Oxley Creek.
“With lower dissolved oxygen in the water, the likelihood of fish kills is increased,” he said.
“We can also expect to see high levels of nutrients resulting in algal blooms and following these blooms we are likely to see ongoing impacts to the health of the riverine environment.”
Ms Jones said the environmental damage of the floods was so frustrating in an area where the local community had worked so hard to improve and care for the Oxley Creek catchment.
“Oxley Creek has been the subject of intense restoration efforts over recent years, and the fantastic efforts of the Oxley Creek Catchment Association were recognised with the 2009 National Riverprize award.
“All that work has built up the resilience of this waterway for major events, but the impact of the recent flooding and the sewerage overflow is significant.
“DERM is conducting a detailed water quality monitoring program in the Oxley Creek area and the results of further tests, including for pesticides, chemicals and other substances are expected in the coming week.”
Director-General of the Department of Environment and Resource Management John Bradley said a comprehensive cleanup and recovery program will be commencing in Brisbane waterways including the Oxley Creek, Blunder Creek and Stable Swamp Creek.
“We have seen an early focus on key sites where industrial containers and potential sources of chemical contamination have collected as flood debris but we are now working with a number of agencies on the systematic cleanup of these waterways.”
Mr Bradley said QUU would soon submit a program of works to DERM to return the Sewage Treatment Plant to normal operating levels but it may be up to 3 months before the plant is fully complying with its normal licence conditions.
“While QUU is working as quickly as possible to get disinfection back online at minimum, the plant is currently providing no secondary or tertiary treatment.”
“We will continue to keep the community up to date as we work through this process with Brisbane City Council and QUU.”
Oxley Creek is a major tributary of the Brisbane River, running through many Brisbane suburbs. The suburbs most affected are those downstream of the sewage treatment plant. Oxley Creek plays an important role in the local ecosystem, providing riparian conservation, bird habitat as well as usually maintaining the quality of Brisbane River and the Bay.
Original Qld Govt media statement can be found here