Importance of Rivers Recognised World Rivers Day Celebrates Water

Article excerpt

Byline: Megan Masters megan.masters@thechronicle.com.au

THE LATEST statistics show that almost one third of Australian waterways have suffered some kind of damage.

They are figures that should cause even the mildest environmentalist a bit of concern, but with the help of Aussie not-for-profit organisation, International River Foundation, there is now a day dedicated to raising awareness that one of our most important natural resources is under threat.

World Rivers Day, held on September 25, is now celebrated in more than 60 countries.

Here on the Darling Downs environmentalists and the local branch of the Queensland Murray-Darling Committee have been working hard not only on looking after the area's waterways, but also on helping waterways and landholders to recover from January flooding.

Volunteer organisations, government departments, community groups and individuals all came out of the woodworks after the destructive inundation to repair the terrible damage.

Get to know your catchment

THE DARLING Downs region is home to several major rivers and catchment areas, with the bustling city of Toowoomba housing three tributaries: East Creek, West Creek and Gowrie Creek.

Many of us might be tempted to believe that looking after one creek poorly won't affect the greater Murray-Darling Basin.

But even though the Murray-Darling covers more than one million square kilometres, or 14% of Australia, what we do here on the top of our mountain is just as important as the South Australian wetlands at the end of the system and everywhere in between.

Toowoomba's East and West creeks come together to form Gowrie Creek, which in turn, flows west to Oakey and joins Oakey Creek.

Oakey Creek flows into the Condamine River at Dalby before making its way into the Balonne, then the Barwon, Darling and Murray rivers respectively.

Flood devastation hits rivers

WHEN January's floods hit Toowoomba, most of us were justifiably too concerned about how our homes and loved ones were faring to worry about the state of the creeks and rivers.

But it wasn't long before multitudes of people from all walks of life began to emerge from the woodwork to lend a hand.

Soon after the waters rose, it became obvious that they would hit levels that hadn't been seen in years and that anything caught in the waters would likely end up in the river system.

Queensland Murray-Darling Committee chief executive officer Geoff Penton said he was lost for words at the thought of so many volunteers giving away an estimated total of 2500 days to rehabilitate Darling Downs water courses and help farmers get back on their feet.

C[pounds sterling]Back in January, we joined with other not-for-profit organisations Co including Landcare, Conservation Volunteers Australia, Volunteering Queensland and BlazeAid Co to form the Basin Flood Recovery Team to help the region's farmers repair some of the immediate flood damage,C[yen] he said.

C[pounds sterling]We could never have envisaged having almost 800 willing volunteers on the ground by the beginning of June.

C[pounds sterling]These are people who have come from everywhere Co across Queensland, across Australia, Europe and North America Co to help farmers from Texas to Crows Nest, from Mitchell to Clifton, start to return to normal.C[yen]

For farmers like the Irons family at Glenmorgan, the Cridlands at Stanthorpe and the Lyons at Nobby, it's hard to find the words to explain what the help has meant.

C[pounds sterling]During the floods, about half of our property, CyBalcondo', became an inland ocean with some places underwater for up to three weeks,C[yen] Tammie Irons said.

C[pounds sterling]Fences were swept away or covered with thick debris and huge logs; dams burst and obviously crops were lost.C[yen]

Mrs Irons said having volunteers turn up to help would never be forgotten. …