The Bremer River, which runs through Ipswich, accepts contaminants from four sewage treatment plants, a defunct coal mine, an abattoir and power station, and is so heavily polluted and oxygen starved it is capable of killing wildlife and risking public safety, an independent study has found.
- The water quality of Ipswich’s Bremer River has not improved in 20 years
- Data found seven Environmental Authorities were exceeding national guidelines
- Council says for the first time in history it’s working with the government on guidelines
The water quality of the Bremer River Catchment has not improved in 20 years, with the level of pollutants allowed into the river over that time exceeding national water quality guidelines, the research revealed.
The Bremer is also a tributary of the Brisbane River.
The former head of the Northern Territory’s Environmental Protection Authority, Dr Bill Freeland, has collated freely available data, which measures the health of the river.
He said it was absurd that the river was currently classified as “moderately disturbed”.
“The river is clearly highly disturbed and in urgent need of remediation,” he said.
He said pollution levels were causing potentially permanent impacts to the river and serious risks to public safety.
The study showed that Environmental Authorities (EAs) issued by the state government exceeded agreed-upon national water quality guidelines.
“All of the inadequacies of all these authorities are clearly amenable to improvement using procedures laid out in the national guidelines to which our Queensland Government is signatory,” Dr Freeland said.
“I was an old Ipswich resident from my childhood and I came back in my retirement and I looked at places we used to go fishing and swimming.
“They were very important places to us, and I thought it was so sad they weren’t looking too good.”
Dr Freeland obtained water sampling data from the state government from the year 2000 to 2017, as well as information published from companies that have EAs to discharge into the river.
He said there were seven EAs that covered discharge into the Bremer — four sewage treatment plants, a defunct coal mine, an abattoir and a power station.
But Dr Freeland said it was not uncommon for companies to breach already “generous” EAs with even higher levels of contaminants in discharge.
The study showed in the most extreme cases, nitrogen was 40 times higher than the acceptable level, ammonia six times the toxicant trigger and phosphorus 216 times the physico-chemical trigger.