Environmental Management

, Volume 54, Issue 4, pp 840–851 | Cite as

Protecting the Green Behind the Gold: Catchment-Wide Restoration Efforts Necessary to Achieve Nutrient and Sediment Load Reduction Targets in Gold Coast City, Australia

  • Nathan J. WalthamEmail author
  • Michael Barry
  • Tony McAlister
  • Tony Weber
  • Dominic Groth


The Gold Coast City is the tourist center of Australia and has undergone rapid and massive urban expansion over the past few decades. The Broadwater estuary, in the heart of the City, not only offers an array of ecosystems services for many important aquatic wildlife species, but also supports the livelihood and lifestyles of residents. Not surprisingly, there have been signs of imbalance between these two major services. This study combined a waterway hydraulic and pollutant transport model to simulate diffuse nutrient and sediment loads under past and future proposed land-use changes. A series of catchment restoration initiatives were modeled in an attempt to define optimal catchment scale restoration efforts necessary to protect and enhance the City’s waterways. The modeling revealed that for future proposed development, a business as usual approach to catchment management will not reduce nutrient and sediment loading sufficiently to protect the community values. Considerable restoration of upper catchment tributaries is imperative, combined with treatment of stormwater flow from intensively developed sub-catchment areas. Collectively, initiatives undertaken by regulatory authorities to date have successfully reduced nutrient and sediment loading reaching adjoining waterways, although these programs have been ad hoc without strategic systematic planning and vision. Future conservation requires integration of multidisciplinary science and proactive management driven by the high ecological, economical, and community values placed on the City’s waterways. Long-term catchment restoration and conservation planning requires an extensive budget (including political and societal support) to handle ongoing maintenance issues associated with scale of restoration determined here.


Sustainable load Stormwater pollution Nutrients Urbanization Eutrophication Water quality 



The authors thank Gold Coast City Council and Healthy Water Partnership for financial and administrative support, particularly E. Abal. J. Brodie provided early comments, while three anonymous reviewers further improved the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nathan J. Waltham
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Michael Barry
    • 2
  • Tony McAlister
    • 2
  • Tony Weber
    • 2
  • Dominic Groth
    • 1
  1. 1.Gold Coast City Council, GCMCGold CoastAustralia
  2. 2.BTM WBMBrisbaneAustralia
  3. 3.Centre for Tropical Water & Aquatic Ecosystem Research (TropWATER)James Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia

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