The Surf Coast Shire Council has identified the potential to reduce stormwater volumes going into the Karaaf Wetlands by more than 40 per cent through reinstating a pump and pipe system under Torquay’s Esplanade.

Investigations have revealed that it may be viable to re-establish the pumping of water from the constructed wetland on Torquay Esplanade, near The Sands estate entrance, to the mouth of Deep Creek, however further work is needed.

The investigation was in response to the findings of 2022’s environmental assessment, which found that freshwater was damaging the saltmarsh.

Reinstating the pump and pipe system is among a number of priorities that Council has provided to the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW) following its request for information on an allocation of $1.9 million under the FederalGovernment’s Urban Rivers and Catchments Program.

DCCEEW will be responsible for:

  • Improving the Esplanade constructed wetland bed and vegetation to improve water quality
  • Designing and implementing further water quality improvement and diversion options (specific projects to be identified in upcoming investigations)
  • Ecological monitoring of the Karaaf Wetlands and water level monitoring at two constructed wetlands sites
  • Funding for project management

Surf Coast Shire Council Councillor, Kate Gazzard, said, “This funding will play a big part in progressing diversion and quality improvement options, however we believe additional funding will be required to cover all of the works needed in the coming years.”

Council is also focussed on the problem of sediment washing into the stormwater system with more regular monitoring of developers and builders.

“New developments in North Torquay expose the soil and, if proper measures aren’t in place, this is washed into the constructed wetlands. It is essential that we make sure that developers and builders are doing the right thing to protect downstream environments like the Karaaf saltmarsh,” Ms Gazzard said.

Council has also recently established a Karaaf Wetlands Community Reference Group comprising twelve local members. The group will advise Council and its consultants on stormwater issues. 

“This group will play an important advisory role. Its members are passionate about the Karaaf and have a broad range of skills and knowledge spanning cultural heritage, climate change, environment, sustainability and stormwater systems,” Ms Gazzard said. 

“The Karaaf has strong cultural and environmental values, and we’re committed to addressing the issues within our constructed wetlands and stormwater system and advocating for integrated water management solutions.”

Barwon Water has commenced a twelve-month project to develop a concept design and business case for the reuse of the stormwater currently entering the Karaaf. This would be mixed with recycled water from its Black Rock plant and used for agricultural purposes. 

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