Cumbalum road sealing works next to Emigrant Creek.
Cumbalum road sealing works next to Emigrant Creek.

Simple solution saves tonnes of pollution going into creek

IMPROVEMENTS on 14 sections of dirt road had saved the equivalent of 13 freight carriages full of sediment from going into Emigrant Creek and ultimately into Richmond River Estuary.

A collaboration between Local Land Services and Ballina Shire Council has prevented the sediment flowing into Emigrant Creek in just 14 months.

The partnership recently completed improvements on 14 sections of dirt road to reduce pollutants such as sediment flowing into Emigrant Creek, and downstream into the Richmond River Estuary, said Shaun Morris said Senior Land Services Officer with North Coast Local Land Services.

"Roads to be worked on were specially chosen to make the largest difference to nearby waterways," he said.

"In 14 months, Ballina Shire Council's roads crew has worked through many challenges to complete on ground works."

More than 8650m of dirt roads were sealed, including known-problem and high-traffic sites such as Houghlahans Creek Road, Cumbalum Road and Howards Lane.

"Using information from the previous repair of these sites following flood damage, the project team have estimated that more than 1310 tonnes of dirt road material will be prevented from entering nearby waterways during each flood event," Mr Morris said.

"This will protect fragile underwater habitats downstream, such as seagrass communities, which support important fisheries."

Paul Hickey, general manager for Ballina Shire Council, said the project was supported by the technical expertise of the council's roads maintenance team plus financial contributions from the council.

"Using the expertise of both agencies was a valuable collaboration between Ballina Shire Council and Local Land Services, council will maintain these newly restored sites to ensure the benefits of this important investment continue," Mr Hickey said.

These works are part of North Coast Local Land Services Marine Estate Management Strategy project to improve water quality in the Richmond River Catchment.

This project was complemented by works to restore eroding river banks and the replanting of Big Scrub Country Rainforest next to sugar cane and macadamia farms in the Emigrant Creek Sub catchment.