A Sunshine Coast farmer is showing other primary producers that improving the quality of their waterways can lead to better farm production and greater profits.
For the past five years, David Clark has been working with rural landowners across the Sunshine Coast’s drinking water supply catchments to help improve the productivity and profitability of their farms while improving the quality of water flowing off their land.
Mr Clark coordinates the FarmFLOW program, which is administered by the Maroochy Landcare Group and funded by bulk water supplier Seqwater, as part of an ongoing partnership.
As a testament to its success, the program recently won the 2016 Healthy Waterways Rural and Agriculture Award.
Mr Clark, who farms timber and raises cattle on his 400 acre property in Maleny, said the program had been operating since 2010.
He said it involved engaging with rural landowners and assisting them with the management of their properties to provide both water quality and production benefits.
“Many landowners don’t realise they live in a water supply catchment and the way they manage their properties can impact the quality of water at the treatment plant,” Mr Clark said.
“With their consent and cooperation, we help improve their properties by assisting with projects such as off-stream erosion repair, farm planning and riparian fencing.
“When we first approach landowners about the program, a lot react with suspicion, wondering ‘what’s the catch?’
“There’s no catch, though. We just want people to get involved with the program to make their farms more efficient and create healthier waterways.”
Mr Clark said Maroochy Landcare was pleased with how the program was moving forward and was honoured to have won a Healthy Waterways Award alongside other groups and individuals who have been making a positive difference to South East Queensland’s waterways.
Seqwater Chief Executive Officer Peter Dennis said the Maroochy FarmFLOW program targeted the Upper South Maroochy catchment – a water source for the Image Flat Water Treatment Plant, which supplies the Nambour area of the Sunshine Coast.
“Seqwater recognises catchment and waterway management is the first and fundamental step to providing affordable, safe and reliable water supply to the community,” Mr Dennis said.
“As a result of this program, landowners are gaining an increased awareness of their impact on the water supply catchment, whether they decide to participate in the program or not.
“Improving the health of our waterways is vital to support an affordable, secure and sustainable water supply for our region into the future.”
Healthy Waterways Chief Executive Officer Julie McLellan congratulated all the finalists and winners of the 2016 Healthy Waterways Awards.
“Our waterways underpin our lifestyle and are integral to our economy,” Ms McLellan said.
“It is important to recognise and celebrate the efforts of groups and partnerships like Maroochy Landcare and Seqwater if we are to increase awareness of waterway health issues, and inspire and support ongoing action.”
For more information about The FarmFLOW Program email firstname.lastname@example.org.
(L-R) Award sponsor Queensland Rail representative Ron Degraaf , David Clark, dairy farmer Ray Devere of Ridge River Dairies, Seqwater Senior Project Definition Planner Tim Odgers and dairy farmer Catherine Devere of Ridge River Dairies.