The three major impacts of a flood on waterway health are mud, chemicals and litter.
When it rains - mud, chemicals and litter are washed into stormwater drains and carried straight out into our waterways. If we don’t manage our catchments properly, floods can negatively affect waterway health and threaten aquatic plants and wildlife.
When mud is washed off the land into our waterways and oceans it causes severe environmental damage such as the smothering of seagrass, which reduces the amount of food for turtles and dugongs. The millions of tonnes of mud that entered Moreton Bay during the January 2011 flood have now settled on the bay floor. This mud layer will kill animals and plants that live on the bay floor.
Planting trees along our waterways can reduce the impact of mud by slowing the flow of water, capturing sediment and filtering nutrients. Find out what you can do.
Household products such as paint, oil and detergent contain a range of toxins that are hazardous to aquatic wildlife and degrade water quality. During heavy rain and floods, a greater amount of chemicals enter our waterways. These excess chemicals can cause severe impacts, such as mass fish kills and toxic algal blooms.
Even when these products are diluted, they should never be tipped down stormwater drains or dumped near waterways. Find out what you can do.
Queensland has the highest amount of litter of all mainland states in Australia. Litter dropped on land is washed by rain and flood water into stormwater drains and transported into our waterways where it affects our wildlife and water quality.
In South East Queensland, the Healthy Waterways Clean Up Program recorded a 50% increase in the number of plastic water bottles collected from local waterways between 2007-2010.
In addition, studies have shown that 30-40% of sea turtles found dead in Moreton Bay have a significant amount of plastic litter in their stomach, which is the likely cause of death. Find out what you can do.
Litter image courtesy of Heidi Den Ronden