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A Hydraulic, Environmental and Ecological Assessment of a Sub-tropical Stream in Eastern Australia: Eprapah Creek, Victoria Point QLD on 4 April 2003

By Hubert Chanson, Richard J. Brown, John Ferris and Kevin Warburton


Eprapah Creek is a small sub-tropical stream in Eastern Australia. On one day, Friday 4th April 2003, a series of detailed hydrodynamic, environmental and ecological measurements was conducted in the estuarine zone by more than 60 people. The purpose of the field works was to assess the complexity of a small estuarine system, the interactions between hydraulic engineering, biology and ecology, and to provide some assessment of the estuarine system that was heavily polluted four to five years ago. Field work was conducted from a low tide to the next low tide : i.e., between 6:00 am and 6:00 pm. Observations were performed at several sites along the 4 km long estuary. They included water elevations, velocity, temperature, conductivity, pH, turbidity, DOC, fish habitat and behaviour, and bird and wildlife surveys. Some measurements were taken every 15 minutes, others every 30 minutes while wildlife and bird observations were conducted continuously. The latter included sightings of koalas, sea eagles, mud crabs ... This series of 12 hour measurements was complemented by several vertical profiles of water quality indicators at three sites. These were performed at high tide and during ebb flow. In addition, an Acoustic Doppler Velocity meter and a state-of-the-art water quality meter were deployed side by side at one site. The probes were continuously data logged for more than 4 hours, from 45 minutes before high tide to 3.5 hours after. The results provided a detailed snapshot of a subtropical creek system. They highlighted the diversity of the eco-system and also the complexity of mixing and diffusion processes in an ecosystem that has a distinctive biology and ecology, including rich wildlife variety. Basic outcomes may be summarised into three categories : (1) a multi-disciplinary survey highlighting (2) contrasting results, associated with (3) inimitable personal experiences. The field study was a single-day study involving a broad range of simultaneous investigations : hydraulics and hydrodynamics, water quality, and ecology. It is believed that this is the first survey of its kind in a sub-tropical estuarine system in Australia. The original approach sets new standards for comprehensive surveys of small estuarine systems in sub-tropical and tropical zones. A key feature of the study was the contrasted outcomes. Fauna observations showed strong, diverse bird and fish activities, while hydrodynamic parameters indicated some energetic flushing process. But the study demonstrated on-going water pollution illustrated by low dissolved oxygen and pH levels, surface slicks and large numbers of exotic fish in the estuary upper reach. Another outcome was the personal experience gained by all people involved : i.e., undergraduate students, academic staff, technical staff, professionals and local community groups. This multi-disciplinary field study fostered interactions and new exchanges between a broad range of individuals. The field experience enhanced students' personal development while group work contributed to new friendships and openings. Such personal experiences were as important as the academic experience

Topics: 099900 OTHER ENGINEERING, 090700 ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING, 090508 Water Quality Engineering, 091500 INTERDISCIPLINARY ENGINEERING, 090500 CIVIL ENGINEERING, subtropical estuary, turbulence, physio, chemistry, field works
Year: 2003
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.qut.edu.au:12338

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  1. (1999). (1) (2) {http://www.uq.edu.au/~e2hchans/reprints.html} Reprints of research papers in hydraulic engineering {http://www.uq.edu.au/~e2hchans/reprints/errata.h tm}
  2. (2003). List of CIVL4140 students involved in the field study.

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