Slowing stormwater runoff in catchments in the Atherton region

Barron Catchment Care was successful in obtaining funding from the federal government Reef Programme to run the project "Slowing stormwater run-off in catchments in the Atherton region".  This is a five year $1.8 million dollar project has a number of objectives, including remediating erosion hotspots in the Rangeview area; undertaking revegetation in the Rangeview area, and manage invasive weeds in three locations - Barney Springs, Tolga Scrub and Hallorans Hill.  

Barron Catchment Care is partnering with the Tablelands Regional Council (TRC) and community groups to slow the flow of stormwater and restore natural habitat throughout urban landscapes near Tolga and Atherton.

The project will result in significantly improved capture of stormwater run-off from Bones Knob and Hallorans Hill through the installation of improved stormwater drainage systems and revegetation of strategic areas throughout Rangeview. The project also includes management of invasive species in a connected landscape, the protection and enhancement of native vegetation, and biodiverse plantings of at least 18 naturally-occurring species.

Improved drainage systems, vegetation restoration and invasive weed management in these areas will mitigate known overland flow and erosion problems for local residents; create new wildlife habitat, enhance biodiversity and ultimately enhance the quality of water entering the Great Barrier Reef.

A key part of this project is engaging with Craig Sponholtz a USA based expert in landscape repair work.  Barron Catchment Care became aware of Craig's innovative approach through his work with Kym and Georgie Kruse of RegenAg.  

In 2014 Craig and Kym demonstrated the techniques when tackling an eroding culvert at Rangeview.  Over three days Craig and Kym built a Zuni bowl and rock structure 

In 2016 Barron Catchment Care run a workshop designed to tackle small scale erosion problems.  A two metre wide gully had emerged over the 2015/2016 wet season in the backyard of a Rangeview dwelling.  Barron Catchment Care approached the landholders with the idea of running a workshop demosntrating how to fix the problem.  The landholders agreed, and a two day workshop was run with 25 very keen participants.    Craig Sponholtz guided the attendees on how to fix the problem - firstly by building a zuni bowl at the eroding area - the headcut - and second how to slow the flow in the gully by building a number of one rock dams.

The structures were built by hand, with a small bobcat and a dingo used to move materials closer to the gully.  The rocks used were local basalt, around the size of a basketball and smaller; gravel - peanut size - was also used.  The key lessons were: to place the rocks so there is three points of contact between each rock.  This prevents the rocks being dislodged by water.  Second - the gravel is rammed between the rocks to prevent water getting under the rocks and scouring the soil.  The strcutures were put to the test when over 150 mm rain fell in two hours on 4 January 2017, and passed with flying colours!  All the rocks stayed in position and the gully did not move.  

The photos below show the 2016 workshop underway and the end result.

In 2017 Craig returned and over three days worked with nine local bobcat and excavator contractors to tackle an eroding area at Tolga where over flow pipes from detention basins entered an erosion point.  A large Zuni bowl was constructed, again following thesame principles - the rocks having three points of contact, with gravel placed between the rocks to prevent scouring.  The photo below shows Craig Sponholtz (orange and blue high vis shirt) and local contractor Brett Chatfield in the Zuni bowl.