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Clear creek banks play key role in waterhole retention

The Comilo Hole on Glenelg with clearer creek banks of native trees.
The Comilo Hole on Glenelg with clearer creek banks of native trees. Contributed

HARRY Chambers' belief about creek banks may be at odds with regulations, but he says it's necessary.

Mr Chambers has managed to retain waterholes on his Mungallala property, Glenelg, and he credits it to having clearer creek banks than his neighbours.

The native trees were thinned out about 40 years ago, before the State Government changed the land-clearing legislation, and by maintaining the banks of the Mungallala Creek to manageable levels, water pools are common on his property.

He said the proof was indisputable, and wants to spread the message that thinned riparian land means water can be retained in creeks.

Brisbane-based scientist Lex Turner, who works for the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries as a veterinarian, said he had witnessed the water retention in the creek beds on Glenelg.

Although employed by the State Government, Mr Turner said his comments relating to Mr Chambers' vegetation management strategies were independent of his employer.

"Harry's theory of waterhole development relies on removing most of the trees in the paddocks and most of the trees along the watercourses," he said.

"Removing or killing the trees allows more grass to grow. It is mainly this grass that slows the water flow across the paddocks."

He said slowing the water allowed more water to enter the soil and the aquifers.

Bonarby Hole situated a few kilometers upstream of Glenelg (Harry's property). This is a very large waterhole surrounded by large gum trees. Photo Contributed
Bonarby Hole situated a few kilometers upstream of Glenelg (Harry's property). This is a very large waterhole surrounded by large gum trees. Photo Contributed Contributed

"The theory depends on a simple process. If water within the soil flows through a sandy substrate, it will loosen up the soil," he said.

"If pressure is trying to pull or push water into or through a substrate, the substrate will pack hard.

"Eucalyptus along the creek banks use lots of water. The action of the roots drawing water from the waterholes tends to pack the soil because of this pressure of the water flowing into the soil."

Mr Chambers said water was still in the parts of Mungallala Creek that ran through his property about two weeks ago, despite tough drought conditions.

Topics:  environment waterways