Environmental connection for developer

This storm water project at Bargara Headlands Estate is designed to protect the ocean that it is close to.

Environmental responsibility is high on the agenda for local community builder, Bill Moorhead.

In his newest housing development situated right on the coast at Innes Park, Bargara Headlands Estate, Mr Moorhead is putting all of the knowledge he has gained over the years into practice.

“Attention to storm water runoff into our oceans is a massive issue often not normally addressed adequately by conditions of development in my opinion,” Mr Moorhead said.

“It’s hard for people to understand what they don’t see but drainage is a significant infrastructure asset that can have dire consequences if not managed environmentally and responsibly.

“We only have to take a look at the discharge from Moneys Creek when it rains to get a glimpse of the environmental damage that can be caused due to decades of miss-management of storm water.”

When a developer wishes to create a housing development, they need to meet certain criteria set out by the Council and State Planning Policies and if the council doesn’t think the policies have been meet, they will add further conditions to an approval to develop the land, The Development Approval (DA).

The various layers of government can only set minimum standards, not best practise.

“The days of allowing untreated storm water to flow from newly created subdivisions through ever-increasing diameter concrete pipes should be over; but unfortunately, this is not the case.

“Storm water collects various contaminants from residents’ yards and oils, fuel and rubber from vehicles on roads that drain into the storm water pipes.

“These invisible pollutants can be treated through Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) principals and especially using artificial wetlands like those currently under construction at Bargara Headlands Estate.

“Treatment of the storm water before it hits our shores is not a cheap exercise and if you don’t have to do it then of course most developers won’t.

“But this is where I have bucked the trend by going above and beyond what the Local and State Governments require, because I do care about our environment.“

Mr Moorhead highlighted that he has engaged a national company based on the Sunshine Coast, Design Flow who specialise in creating WSUD plans just for this situation.

Design Flow have designed major wetlands in many parts of Australia.

Mr Moorhead and Grant (Molly) Davies, visited an old driving school in Adelaide that was mostly covered by asphalt was transformed into a set of ponds and reed beds where water from a local storm water drain was redirected.

The system polishes the water as it travels through the water sensitive urban designed wetlands and at the end, it is pumped back into the aquifer and used in parks close by for irrigation.

The wetlands not only take a lot of the artificial nutrients and pollutants out of the water but also provides habitat for wildlife including amphibians, birds but especially dragonflies. In all wetlands, whether natural or artificial, dragonflies are a barometer for water quality.

Juvenile dragonflies are water beetles and these critters feast on things like mosquito wrigglers. Bottom line is that healthy waterways generally do not have insect problems for residents and visitors.

Mr Moorhead has also attended a course and various lectures on Water Sensitive Urban Design adding to his environmental credentials and solidifying his passion to make a difference.

“We engaged Design Flow to look at our development and design a system for a five acre area in the middle of the estate that would take the storm water and overland flows and polish them before reaching the ocean” said Mr Moorhead.

The design encompasses an initial settling pond where large rubbish can be caught and removed as well as allowing silt to settle.

This can be removed over time with maintenance tracks being built for ease of access.

There are three outlets from there with the first one opening out into a reed bed that will filter the water further before reaching another settling pond ensuring the water that is discharged into the ocean to almost potable quality. If the water level gets higher it is then directed into a scientifically designed bio retention basin which is layered with slotted drainage pipes and sand filter medium which again will take nutrient and pollutants out of the water.

The last outlet is for when we get torrential rain and will take those flows out through a rock lined open drain.

The rocks slow the water down which allows the silt to drop and be caught amongst the rocks.

Although the cost is substantially more than what was required by the Local and State Governments, Mr Moorhead believes it is worth it to show the importance of storm water management on our coastline.

“This is particularly important in our location because of the presence coral reefs right in front of Bargara Headlands.

“Our wetlands are worlds best practice in Water Sensitive Urban Design.

“Not only does it polish the storm water, but it will also offer refuge and habitat for numerous species of wildlife that are continually being adversely effected by humans.”

Mr Moorhead and his team have worked collaboratively with Bundaberg Regional Council’s town planning, gardens and engineering officers to ensure that everyone is onboard with the Headlands Green concept and the magnificent asset that it will become for residents, visitors and wildlife going forward.

The Headlands Green Stage of the Bargara Headlands Estate will be completed in the next few months.

Walking tracks and mosaic street art have also been incorporated into the wetlands area, allowing visitors to view this unique area to see Bill’s environmental efforts in the flesh shortly.