Council commits to program to protect Great Barrier Reef
Gladstone Regional Council is committed to protecting the Great Barrier Reef through its partnership with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) Reef Guardian Council program.
The innovative Reef Guardian Councils program recognises Council's environmentally sustainable practices and encourages identification of future opportunities and actions that will help to protect the Great Barrier Reef.
By way of an annual action plan, Gladstone Regional Council aims to protect and conserve the reef by focusing on five initiatives:
1. Water management - waterways rehabilitation, water monitoring, urban stormwater treatment, wastewater and trade waste treatment.
Council is currently drafting a Stormwater Management Plan for implementation across the region. The plan will incorporate various aspects including water sensitive urban design, and erosion control measures.
Council and Queensland Alumina Limited (QAL) have jointly funded a project to reduce water usage at the QAL refinery. The initiative will reduce wastewater discharge by approximately 1100kL per annum.
Council is active in maintaining significant wetlands within the Gladstone Region. Management Plans are being drafted for Byellee Wetlands as well as Wapentake to ensure the environmental values of the wetlands are protected and enhanced, contributing to the recovery of threatened species, the improvement of water quality, coastal protection and improved aesthetics and pollution control including erosion and run off control.
2. Waste management - waste avoidance, waste reuse and recycling, and recovery of energy.
Council promotes diversion through Sort 'N' Save by having dedicated areas for recycling material including co-mingled cardboard, waste oil, batteries, scrap metal, clean timber, green waste, clean fill, oil drums, chemical containers (through drum muster program), and mobile phones (through mobile muster program).
Council proactively recycles biosolids by way of incorporating green waste, composting and utilising for erosion management at the landfill site. Mulched green waste is also made available to Gladstone residents, and delivered free to schools in the region when requested.
Council is also pursuing landfill gas management.
Council is scheduled to conduct its triennial waste audit. Comparisons will be drawn with the last waste audit in 2009, when recycling had just been introduced into the smaller urban areas of our region. Since this time, recycling initiatives have also been expanded to include more remote properties.
3. Land management - vegetation and pest management, resource assessment, erosion control, and land planning and management.
As part of Council's weed seed spread prevention strategy, Council regularly facilitate pest management forums for landholders to discuss pest plant and animal issues and strategies. In addition, Council provides officers to assist in educating landholders on the identification, control and prevention of spread of pest species, as well as equipment to assist in the control of weed species. A number of spray units can be hired out to landholders. A wash down facility, constructed in Calliope, is also available.
Routine revegetation of streetscapes, gardens and old quarry and landfill sites is ongoing. Specific sites include the Northern Alignment Agnes Water Desalination Plant access road, intake/discharge works and Seventeen Seventy reservoir site.
Successful erosion control of Council's operations can be attributed to the provision of engineered sediment control diagrams developed in conjunction with Council's Design Services Department, as well as up-to-date training.
Council continues coastal restoration activities with the help of Volunteer Groups.
4. Climate change - planning and policy, energy and resource efficiency, and community education.
Council has employed the services of Planet Footprint to monitor Council's electricity and fuel consumption. This service enables the identification of areas where abatement measures can be implemented. Energy efficiency tips are also distributed to the local community through the Council's information distribution tools.
Council also provides guidelines to householders in order to best adapt to climate change including housing orientation, cyclone ratings, insulation and window spacing
5. Community - education, capacity building and development of partnerships
Council has developed partnerships with many organisations, to implement environmentally sustainable practices, including:
• Natural Resource Management Groups,
• Port Curtis Integrated Monitoring Program,
• Fitzroy Basin Association,
• Burnett Mary Regional Group
• Central Queensland University,
• Queensland Alumina Limited, and
• Central Queensland Local Government Association.
Council and the Gladstone Region Environment Advisory Network (GREAN) facilitate an annual forum for industry, local business and community groups, on topical environmental issues.
To help raise awareness of the importance of protecting the environment Council is involved in many community projects including revegetation, Toad Buster programs, Community Weeding Days, Earth Hour and Clean-Up Australia Day. Council also provides sewerage treatment plant, landfill and waste transfer station site visits for schools. Pest Plant & Noxious Weed education sessions have been held with local schools.
Council's environmental activities:
- Ecofest - Gladstone Regional Council runs Ecofest each year to celebrate environmental initiatives of businesses and industries to raise awareness on how residents can be more environmentally friendly.
- Earth Hour - Council participates annually in Earth Hour, a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) initiative encouraging communities to turn off their lights between 8.30pm and 9.30pm on the last Saturday in March.
- Clean Up Australia Day - Gladstone Regional Council helps coordinate Clean Up Australia Day, held on the first Sunday of March, by providing trucks and staff to collect and dispose of the rubbish collected during the day.
For further information on the Reef Guardian Program, click here to access the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority website: http://www.gbrmpa.gov.au/our-partners/reef-guardians