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Podcast: Washpool Creek naturalisation

In today’s podcast episode we learn all about the innovative Washpool Creek naturalisation project.

The Washpool Creek naturalisation project will provide stormwater drainage needs and have water quality, ecological and environmental benefits.

Currently a concrete drain, the transformed Washpool Creek will be a pleasant place to walk, run, play, and explore. 

Students from nearby St John's Lutheran Primary School were invited on a site visit with council engineers, offering the kids the opportunity to provide feedback on the project.

You can also listen on Google, Apple, Spotify, TuneIn or your favourite podcast app.

Podcast transcript

Gennavieve Lyons  00:06

Hello and welcome to the Bundaberg Now podcast, brought to you by the Bundaberg Regional Council. I'm your host, Gennavieve Lyons, and in today’s episode we learn all about council’s innovative naturalisation project at Washpool Creek. In a similar way to current works at Belle Eden Estate, this project will deliver an integrated public open space that balances technical stormwater drainage function while also delivering significant water quality, ecological and environmental benefits. Located between Ford St and Bundaberg Creek, the Washpool Creek corridor is currently a concrete channel at the end of its serviceable life and large open grassed areas with sparse mature trees. The project team aims to return the site to a natural state and create an attractive and usable recreational space for residents with new footpath connections, park facilities, waterway crossings, additional trees for shade and grassed open spaces for active play. Community engagement advisor Trish Mears spoke with council’ senior engineer Tim Fichera about the naturalisation project.

Trish Mears  01:16

So Tim, tell us about the Washpool Creek naturalisation project.

Tim Fichera  01:20

So it's a project about bringing green infrastructure into what has always been a hard drainage infrastructure project. So we're just able to bring a lot more values and benefits to that area. Rather than just making it a drainage channel, we'll still have the primary function of taking drainage from Ford Street down to Bundaberg Creek. But we'll also turn it into an area that people are able to use and enjoy.

Trish Mears  01:43

So how did the project come about?

Tim Fichera  01:44

So the drain was identified for renewal, the concrete has been in there for around 70-80 years. So it's come to the end of its life. So we need to upgrade the drain. And it's a great opportunity for us to take the green infrastructure way of doing things and bringing it into this rather than just putting it in an old concrete, new concrete darin like for like.

Trish Mears  02:04

And what will that involve, making it green?

Tim Fichera  02:07

So we'll have to obviously remove the concrete to begin with. But ultimately, we'll see a lot of new trees come in a lot of plants, potentially some ponds, just that green infrastructure that removes the pollutants before it gets to Bundaberg Creek.

Trish Mears  02:21

And what's your vision of how it will look like when it's completed?

Tim Fichera  02:25

My vision is that hopefully it'll become a really nice green space that people will come and enjoy. But also the main goal is ultimately treating the pollution that is that is entering the sensitive waterways like Bundaberg Creek and Baldwin swamp. Obviously, maintaining the drainage function is the primary requirement, though. But there's just so many other benefits that we can get out of this.

Trish Mears  02:48

And do you think this is the way forward for Council for future drainage projects?

Tim Fichera  02:53

Yeah, I really do to be honest, because we've seen across southeast Queensland a lot of these implemented, it's been really positive the outcomes that they are getting. And it's really about thinking sustainably about the infrastructure that we put in, we want a future for our kids that you know, they're able to enjoy. And I believe that we will get the outcomes that we're trying to get out of this. So it's a great project.

Gennavieve Lyons  03:18

As an active and connected place, the Washpool Creek corridor will become a pleasant place to walk, run, play, and explore. To ensure it caters for the community, council is running Design Your Creek drop-in sessions for feedback. As part of this students from nearby St Johns Lutheran School we invited on a site visit with engineers for an introduction to the project and to get the kids coming up with ideas for the creek. Trish Mears spoke with Jocelyn Bakker from St Johns School after the visit to Washpool Creek.

Trish Mears  03:45

And tell us what happened today with the kids what what was the process of the walkthrough?

Tim Fichera  03:49

So today, we took the St John's kids through for a walkthrough of the creek to show them what it is now. We then brought them back to the classroom and gave some activities where they could design the creek themselves tell us what they think the upgrade should entail. And we also did just some learnings on what green infrastructure actually is and what what the function of green infrastructure is.

Trish Mears  04:14

Have they come up with some good ideas?

Tim Fichera  04:15

There's some great ideas coming in there, that's for sure. There's there's some stuff in there that we definitely had not even thought of. So it's really great to get the kids involved and just start taking them along for the ride. And this is the new way forward for drainage infrastructure.

Trish Mears  04:31

And how else are you consulting with the community?

Tim Fichera  04:33

So we're consulting with community this weekend on well on Friday to begin with Friday afternoon from three to five down at Baldwin Swamp, and then Saturday from 8am to 11am. So people can come down. Have a look at some examples of naturalisation projects that have happened across Queensland tell us what they like what they don't like and what they see for the area as well and tell us what they value about the area and how they want to use it.

Trish Mears  04:58

And what's it been like involving St John's School with it?

Tim Fichera  05:02

It's been great actually, um, again, just having that education for the younger generation I think is really important. But they've taken it on board great. They've really enjoyed the day. So it's it's great to see so I really happy with the way it's gone.

Gennavieve Lyons  05:15

Trisha also spoke with Jocelyn Bakker from St. John's after the visit to Washpool Creek,

Trish Mears  05:20

Jocelyn, what have the students learned on their visit to Washpool Creek this morning?

Jocelyn Bakker  05:24

The students have learned about our local drainage system and how that impacts on our local waterways. They've been able to engage with Tim Fichera, a senior engineer from Council. So they've also learned a little bit about what an engineer does on Council and why these projects and opportunities are important.

Trish Mears  05:44

And why do you think it's important for them to have a say?

Jocelyn Bakker  05:48

I think that the young people of today, they want a say in what's happening around their local community. One of the things that we promote at St. John's is being able to think critically being able to ask questions and having a voice in their learning. So I think that this opportunity for our young people have enabled them to consult with experts from outside of the classroom and outside of the school. And ultimately, they'll be able to get that feedback on their ideas down the track once once the Washpool Creek project is up and running.

Trish Mears  06:19

And what would you like to see happen next, as far as the school and council collaboration?

Jocelyn Bakker  06:24

I think that this morning, the enthusiasm from the council, people that are working with us this morning, but equally the students has shown us that this is really important for the students, that they are valuing having their input and their ideas. So I think being given that opportunity, as suggested this morning for the planners to come back and show the students through the draft plans. And for them to be able to see some of those ideas come to fruition will enable them to feel that their voice has been heard. And that that will be an important part of them understanding in the future that their voice is important.

Trish Mears  07:04

And what has been the highlight of the morning, do you think?

Jocelyn Bakker  07:06

I think there's been lots of highlights. Being able to work with experts from our local council has definitely been a highlight the students have learned what the council does in terms of engineering and future infrastructure. I think that going on the walk and being able to visualise the Washpool Creek drainage area, and then seeing where that drainage water ends up, has put it into context for them around what they're working on. But certainly coming back to school and seeing them interact with Dave and with Tim and with yourself has been really lovely to see because of that enthusiasm and their unique ideas that they're being able to bring to the project. I think that's been a real highlight for the students, but equally for the adults, seeing the children put into context what they've been learning.

Trish Mears  07:51

Fantastic. And I have had lots of ideas, and we really appreciate your involvement.

Jocelyn Bakker  07:55

Thank you so much for having us.

Gennavieve Lyons  07:58

St Johns student Brayth Burkitt was very impressed with the site visit. Here he is speaking about Washpool Creek.

Trish Mears  08:05

How does it feel to Design your Creek and have your say on this project?

Brayth Burkitt  08:10

It feels really nice because we can all collaborate, collaborate on the ideas and find like, fun ways to make the creek better for everybody to go and explore and have fun. And also to help save the wildlife and the plants and trees and the environment.

Trish Mears  08:33

Fantastic. What have you learned today?

Brayth Burkitt  08:37

Today, I've learned some things about how all the gutters and pipes, how they all work and how they connect into the creeks and ponds and all of those things. And how all those microplastics and all of that can be swept into the ponds and then in turn kill our wildlife and all the plants and creatures.

Trish Mears  09:04

And what do how would you like to see Washpool Creek in the future? What's your vision for the future?

Brayth Burkitt  09:09

I see Washpool Creek as a nice place for animals and plants to thrive and everybody can go there and see that and feel proud of the park and the creek.

Trish Mears  09:27

What's been your highlight of the morning what's been the best thing?

Brayth Burkitt  09:33

Probably discussing ideas with my friends and thinking about well how can we make this a better place? In what ways can we help change it and change it for the better?

Trish Mears  09:46

Have you ever been to Washpool Creek before?

Brayth Burkitt  09:49

No I haven't actually. That was the first time I've been there. I have seen that little Bundaberg Creek bit that we went to at the end before we went back But I haven't seen that little concrete bit though that was all destroyed and had those concrete, like plants coming out of the ground. I haven't been there before now.

Trish Mears  10:14

And how would it feel to see that you know, with grasses and plants and as you say, wildlife is well how would that make you feel?

Brayth Burkitt  10:21

Just feel great. It would make me happy to see it all come back together. And everybody, I can see everybody having fun there and like enjoying the wildlife and the place and having fun.

Trish Mears  10:39

Thank you so much for being involved.

Brayth Burkitt  10:41

Thank you.

Gennavieve Lyons  10:42

A rehabilitated, reconnected, and revitalised Washpool Creek will play a vitally important role in delivering Council’s vision, of building Australia’s best regional community. Construction will start at Washpool Creek in early 2022, but to have your say on the project, attend a Design Your Creek drop-in session this Friday or Saturday at Baldwin Swamp, or online at ourbundabergregion.com.au. That’s all for today. I hope you enjoyed this week’s podcast. Join me again next week for more stories from across the region. Bye for now. 

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