Support drying up for dam desilting plan
AS part of its $46.2 million contribution to the LGAQ battleplan, Lockyer Valley Regional Council identified the desilting of Lakes Freeman and Apex as priority projects, but not everyone agrees with the plan.
The LVRC asserted the desilting works would make the area more drought-resistant and would benefit the local and migratory species that use the area.
But Friends of Lake Apex member Annette Fifoot said desilting the lakes would have the opposite effect and could severely impact the wellbeing of wildlife.
“Many of the migratory birds are waders that feed on invertebrates found in the mud of the shallow waters,” she said.
“Extensive desilting would reduce this particular habitat, as well as affecting the biodiversity of existing flora and fauna. Even limited desilting, with careful planning and control, has its problems.”
The lakes and their surrounding parkland form a shallow lagoon ecosystem, with reeds, islands and plant growth providing a range of habitats for birds, frogs, reptiles and fish, as well as being a water source for other creatures.
When the issue of desilting the lake was broached by the council in August last year, a review of records identified numerous animals that had been seen at the lakes and would be detrimented by desilting.
While most of these impacts were deemed to be low for Lake Apex, desilting at the more shallow Lake Freeman was stated to pose a moderate risk to the Australasian bittern, curlew sandpiper, eastern curlew and Australian painted snipe, all of which visit the lakes during favourable conditions.
Also included on the list was the protected Australian lungfish, which was sighted at Lake Apex in 1994 and is listed as a vulnerable species.
The presence of lungfish was confirmed when one was found and rehomed during rescue operations carried out at Lake Apex later in August, where more than 250 animals were relocated due to the lake drying up.
In total 226 turtles, 27 eels and three catfish were captured and relocated, and this does not include the animals that were rehomed by locals in the preceding days, nor those that had already vacated the lake or were left behind after the rest were relocated.
The sheer volume of animals found at the lake, even at its driest-ever point, highlights how important the site is to the ecosystem.
“The area, listed by the Queensland State Government as ‘referable wetlands of high ecological significance’, draws national and international tourists,” Mrs Fifoot said.
“It’s a wonderful breeding habitat for both local and migratory birds, some of which are identified as probable threatened species.”
Like other ‘battleplan’ projects, the desilting will not go ahead without additional funding support from the State Government.
However, Mrs Fifoot said even with funding, the council would have a lot of contend with and consider before being able to proceed.
“Permits and licences required by state and federal legislation are only the start,” she said.
“The criteria for managing a wetland are entirely different from the criteria for a weir or farm dam.”
More stories by Nathan Greaves.