Saturday, May 26, 2018

Report on May Outing: “A little gem, two sources, and a meander: enjoying water features within our city"

This month’s outing was different from many others that we have had: we actually explored Toowoomba city itself, but focussed only on its flood mitigation strategies. In this we were very ably led by Margaret Compton, who along with Bob Fuller, had attended late last year StormWater Queensland’s one day workshop entitled ‘Water Sensitive Design in Urban Areas – Toowoomba’s East Creek as an example’. John Swarbrick was also able to provide us with interesting and pertinent observations throughout the morning.

Our first stop was at the corner of Spencer and Alderley Streets, where we were shown one of the tinier stormwater detention basins. The convoy then moved to Spring Street to see how the terrain had been shaped by nature and human hand to channel the water into West Creek. This area is known as the Murray Clewett Wetland. We walked along the bottom of the sports field nearby where John Swarbrick pointed out a well that used to feed off the underground spring, but is now much neglected, judging by the quality of the water that we saw.
The convoy then moved to Ethan Street to see the beginning of East Creek. This abutted the Toowoomba Regional Council’s Nursery. The water that flowed into this detention basin and that formed the beginning of East Creek was fed by two stormwater pipes. The water from the basin flowed through a pipe outlet into a wide patch of ground before flowing into a series of swamps. Margaret Compton took us to a small street (court) opposite the car park and showed us other strategies that had been used to control more effectively water run- off during rains. One was the use of a ‘swale’ to direct run-offs towards a drain. Another was the use of permeable pavings. One other feature that is noteworthy is that the car park here faces a small native garden, the plants for which have all come from the Crows Nest Nursery.

Corner of Spencer and Alderley Streets, part of the overall flood prevention on West Creek and one that many of us just drive by not even knowing it exists

The original brick well at Kearney Springs Park
The water from the area mentioned in the previous paragraph makes its way via a culvert under Spring Street to a large detention basin in Jutsum Street. From here it goes underground to come up at the nearby Storey Farm Park where an old gum tree provided us a spot for morning tea. The water here went over stones that were set in concrete in order to minimise erosion.
Our next stop was at Ballin Drive where there is another large detention basin. The plants here have grown very quickly and now provide a very thick coverage so that the water causeway is not easily visible.
We next visited Garnet Lehmann Park where a very large detention basin has been created. It seems that a narrow-constructed channel with wide grassed, sloped verges is effective in managing sizeable flows of water, and grass resists erosion. This was our last stop before we continued to see the direction in which water would continue to flow – past Lake Annand, along Kitchener Street, and past Queens Park. After the Frog’s Hollow corner of Queens Park, the creek goes into wide culverts to pass under Hume Street and alongside Chalk Drive to the now totally reconstructed and greatly enlarged confluence with West Creek. We stopped at Hodgson Street to look at this but current work has necessitated a fence to be erected.
Half the group that started out in the morning then elected to go to Boyce Gardens for lunch in the sunshine – though the wind was getting cool and this brought the outing to an end.
It has been claimed that over 10 years TRC is spending $175 million for East and West Creeks, as part of the flood mitigation strategies. Thanks to Margaret Compton, TFNC members and guests were able to see some of the results. 

Stones here have been cemented into one of the catchment areas for the Kearney Springs area

A special way Council are using parking areas to disperse water in the event of a downpour and many of us would not be aware of this. The divided rubber is covered with small sized gravel

(Report by Francis Mangubhai; photographs by Diane Turner)
Bird List- Excursion to Water Catchment Areas of Toowoomba   (Collated by Sandy Eastoe)

Thanks to the combined efforts of Neil McKilligan, Mike Ford and Allen Parry for the collaborative list. Most birds were seen at our visits to Spring Street (source of West Creek) and Ballin Drive Park.
White Ibis, Hardhead, Great Egret, Crested Pigeon, Coot, Masked Lapwing, Wood Duck, Black Duck, Grey Teal, Noisy Minor, Currawong, Crow, Purple Swamp Hen (Moorhen), Welcome Swallow, Magpie, Scaly Breasted Lorikeet, Willie Wagtail, Rainbow Lorikeet, Magpie Lark, Crested Pigeon, Pied Butcher Bird, Pale Headed Rosella.

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