Restoring our waterways

Water environments face pressures from different land uses, including:

  • increased urbanisation and associated stormwater pollution
  • agricultural uses
  • population growth
  • increased use of our water resources.

These pressures and land uses can result in a range of issues in our water environments, including:


City of Gold Coast shares the responsibility of looking after our natural waterways with the following Queensland government departments:

Gold Coast Waterways Authority's (GCWA) guide, ‘Who's who in the blue?’, lists which authority to contact to report a variety of concerns about our waterways.

Management actions

To maintain the health of our water environments we carry out both ecological restoration projects and ongoing maintenance activities.

Ecological restoration projects

Projects to restore degraded or destroyed water environments are undertaken. These projects can include a range of actions including:

  • improving the riparian environment along our river and creek banks and in our wetlands
  • re-introducing large wood in streams
  • re-establishing natural flows through activities such as weir removal
  • natural regeneration and revegetation of aquatic and wetland plants
  • constructing artificial wetlands.

Restoration addresses the root cause of many waterway issues and therefore has numerous benefits including:

  • improved water quality and ecological health
  • increased flushing waterways
  • reduced risk to public health due to poor quality water and algal blooms
  • decreased sediment in the mid and lower reaches of waterways
  • increased flood mitigation
  • improved aesthetics
  • improved aquatic and waterside habitat.

Current and significant restoration projects include:

Importance of riparian environments

Riparian environments – vegetation along the banks of rivers and streams – are vital to waterway health. Native plants protect water quality by filtering nutrients and sediment from urban areas. Mature and understory plants stabilise the riverbed and banks which reduces erosion and flood damage. Riparian environments also provide critical habitat and food to native plants and animals both on land and in waterways. The shade from riparian vegetation helps regulate water temperature which is important to fish and helps reduce the likelihood of algal blooms.

Large wood in waterways

We get regular requests from residents to remove large wood such as fallen trees as well as sticks, bark and leaves from streams. We investigate all requests but most of the time, no action is needed.

Large wood is an important natural component of instream aquatic ecosystems.


  • Stabilises riverbed and banks by diverting/decreasing flows and resisting erosion.
  • Provides habitat for a range of aquatic plants and animals.
  • Improves water quality by increasing available oxygen for fish and reducing odours.
  • Decaying wood is an important source of food for some aquatic invertebrates and fish.
  • Provides perches, resting, foraging and lookout sites for birds, reptiles, and mammals.
  • Many aquatic invertebrates have a terrestrial adult stage. Dragon flies for example rely of large wood that juts out of the water so they can complete their life cycle.

Re-introducing large wood in streams

Clearing vegetation in the past has removed valuable sources of large wood in many of our waterways. Even when stream bank revegetation is successful, it takes hundreds of years to generate the new supply of large wood. River managers world-wide are reintroducing large word to stablise our waterways.

How we can protect and improve riparian environments


  • Use fences to control or prevent stock accessing waterways and riparian areas. Consider using troughs to water stock.
  • Encourage the regeneration of native plants or help growth by planting natives and controlling weeds.
  • Allow different layers of vegetation to grow such as groundcovers, understorey, and canopy.

Boat users

  • Reduce boat speed on the water to minimise boat wash.


  • Join your local community catchment and bushcare group, located throughout the Gold Coast.

Maintenance activities

Where necessary maintenance activities are undertaken to address specific issues. These include:

  • Controlling algae and weeds
  • Removing floating debris – We have 6 crews of 2 people to patrol our 860 kilometres of tidal waterways, removing over 1000 tonnes of floating debris per year.
  • Harvesting aquatic vegetation – Aquatic vegetation in lakes is regularly inspected. When necessary, vegetation is manually harvested in a controlled manner to prevent the outbreak of algae and minimise impacts on fish and other native fauna.
  • Installing floating reed beds – Floating reed beds are rafts of vegetation. They are a versatile, cost-effective method to treat water quality issues in lakes. They also provide habitat for wildlife. A trial of floating reed beds in Lake Lomandra showed positive results in water quality.

Waterway facilities & businesses

Facilities such as boat ramps, fishing and viewing platforms are provided by the City to help you explore and enjoy our waterways, however permits are required for building works along waterways such as pontoons, jetties and revetment walls.

We are responsible for regulating marinas, boat builders and repair businesses within the Gold Coast, with some businesses requiring a licence. This includes assessing the environmental performance of each business.