Two new studies bring final plan closer

A major plan which will determine the future use of waterways in Tweed Shire for boating, fishing and other recreational activities is one step closer with the completion of two significant reports.

Consultants have completed the Ecological Assessment and Recreational Use Study, key components of the Tweed River Estuary Management Plan, set to be released for public exhibition in March, 2018.

The plan will balance environmental, recreational and economic uses of the river and set out a program of works that can be implemented over ten years to protect its values.

Tweed Shire Council’s Waterways Program Leader Tom Alletson said the new studies, which add to the Community Values Study and Water Quality Assessment already completed for the project, provide a detailed snapshot of the river system.

“It’s difficult to summarise the whole estuary’s condition with a single rating as conditions vary considerably across differing attributes and along its length,” said Mr Alletson.

“Overall however we can say that it is in good condition in its lower reaches with poor conditions upstream, particularly upstream of Condong and in the Rous River”

The report recommends a focus on working with land owners in the upper estuary and the Rous River to rehabilitate bankside vegetation and continue to improve agricultural best practice.

“This would benefit those areas of the river in poorest condition and would potentially result in the greatest improvement to overall ecosystem conditions in the estuary,” said Mr Alletson.

“This would then benefit downstream reaches and could lead to long-term improvements in water quality and seagrass, with benefits for uses such as swimming and fishing.”

One of the key recommendations of the Recreational Use Study is the promotion of ‘character zones’ to support the continuation of active and passive recreational use, and river rehabilitation.

The character zones acknowledge the key issues of bank erosion and usage conflicts, recommending a restriction on towing activities in environmentally sensitive areas upstream of the Commercial Road boat ramp in Murwillumbah and adjacent to Stott’s Island and the Tweed Broadwater.

“The idea of the character zones is to proactively promote uses of the river that best suit its character and give us the best chance of addressing environmental problems in the face of increasing river use,” said Mr Alletson.

The NSW Department of Roads and Maritime Service are currently reviewing their Tweed River Boating Plan, which controls vessel use on the river.

Mr Alletson said the concept of character zones has been conveyed to Roads and Maritime Services.

“It is hoped that by highlighting different areas where passive uses such as kayaking and towing sports such as water skiing are most suitable, a balanced and enjoyable river experienced can be achieved for recreational uses sometimes seen as incompatible”
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