Rivers and creeks
Council works to protect and improve our natural waterways.
Projects include management plans, water quality monitoring, large scale erosion control and revegetation works.
Tweed waterways health report
View the interactive 2021 Tweed waterways report
Here you will discover more about the Tweed’s water quality and the different perspectives of aquatic ecosystem health held by Tweed waterway users.
Council produces an annual water quality report card for the Tweed’s waterways, including estuaries, catchment and coastal creeks.
The report card rates the quality of waterways across the Tweed, and Council and community projects.
Tweed River Estuary Management Plan
Council has prepared a 10 year management plan for the Tweed River Estuary(PDF, 10MB). The plan contains detailed background information on the issues affecting the river, and a list of actions that will be implemented to sustain its environmental and recreational values.
A significant number of technical studies were undertaken in the preparation of the management plan. These are listed in the contents.
Please contact Council’s waterways team if you would like to access any of the technical studies on 02 6670 2400.
Tweed River Management Award
Tweed Shire Council was recognised in 2021 as one of 3 top leaders in global river management at the prestigious 21st Thiess International Riverprize for its work on the Tweed River.
This overview video highlights some of the work done on the Tweed River as part of the Tweed River Management Program.
Tweed Coast Estuaries Management Plan
Council manages the 3 Tweed Coast Creeks that meet the ocean at Kingscliff, Hastings Point and Pottsville. The values of and issues affecting Cudgen, Cudgera and Mooball Creeks are detailed in the Tweed Coast Estuaries Management Plan 2013(PDF, 4MB).
Council undertakes rehabilitation of waterways on public land, and on private land in cooperation with owners. Council’s River Health Grants program provides support for land owners wishing to undertake work on their property that will lead to improvements in water quality and stream health.
To achieve this, the scheme will supply funding for projects to address typical problems found on our waterways, including bank erosion, unrestricted stock access to waterways, lack of riparian vegetation and weed infestations. To improve the hygiene of our water supplies a priority activity will be to supply fencing materials and drinking troughs for stock throughout the catchment.
A special round of funding is available for rural landowners in the Terranora and Cobaki Broadwater catchments. Poor water quality in Bilambil, Duroby, Piggabeen and Cobaki Creeks needs to be addressed to maintain the environmental values of the Broadwater’s and the Tweed River estuary.
Applications can be made by completing the Expression of Interest form(PDF, 314KB) and returning to Council. The next step will be a site visit to assess the potential benefit of restoration projects.
Since commencing the program in 2006, outputs include:
- Works on over 155 properties
- Over 66 km of stream bank has been protected with grant assistance
- 30.6 km banks protected by stock fencing and watering points
- 28 km bush regeneration
- 2.8 km erosion control (earthworks & stock crossing)
- 5 km of vine weed control
- 1800 ha managed
- Currently working with 27 landowners across 11.5 km of waterway
River Health Grants Program fact sheet(PDF, 981KB)
Riparian Habitat for Wildlife fact sheet(PDF, 525KB)
Water quality and waterway health monitoring
Tweed River report 2019(PDF, 1MB)
Stormwater pollution guide(PDF, 3MB)
Council recently commissioned two water quality assessments as background studies for a new Tweed River Estuary Management Program currently being prepared.
Both examined compliance with aquatic ecosystem protection targets for the Tweed River and Terranora-Cobaki Broadwaters between 2012 and 2016.
Read the reports.
Find out more about the Tweed River Estuary Management Program.
Council undertakes regular water quality monitoring in the freshwater and estuarine reaches of the Tweed River, and the Tweed Coastal Creeks.
Data is collected and analysed by the Tweed Laboratory, and is regularly reviewed in order to present the findings of these investigations.
The Tweed Laboratory Centre is a multi-million dollar facility offering a comprehensive range of chemical and biological testing for soil and water.
The following reports present these findings.
Tweed and Rous River Water Quality Assessment 2017(PDF, 4MB)
Terranora and Cobaki Water Quality Assessment 2017(PDF, 5MB)
Water Quality Assessment Tweed River Upper Catchment
Upper Tweed Catchment Water Quality Assessment(PDF, 11MB)
Tweed Estuary Water Quality Review 2007-2011 - Final Report
Tweed Shire Council has undertaken a water quality monitoring program in the Tweed estuary since 2007. The data span a wide range of wet and dry climatic conditions and therefore provide a comprehensive picture of water quality variation in the Tweed estuary. This report provides an analysis of temporal and spatial trends in water quality, identifies likely controlling processes and discusses ecological implications.
Full Report(PDF, 5MB)
Executive Summary(PDF, 2MB)
Cudgera Creek and Kerosene Inlet, Fingal Head
Australian Wetlands was commissioned by the Tweed Shire Council (TSC) to undertake a baseline ecological health assessment for the Cudgera Creek estuary at Hastings Point and Kerosene Inlet on Letitia Spit Fingal Head, NSW. The project involved the collection and identification of benthic macroinvertebrates, water and sediment quality assessment as well as on-site assessment of seagrass health.
Baseline Ecological Assessment Report Cudgera Creek and Kerosene Inlet, Tweed Coast(PDF, 1MB)
Cobaki and Terranora Broadwater Ecosystem Health Monitoring Program
This report card shows the results of an estuary health investigation conducted by Tweed Shire Council in Cobaki and Terranora Broadwaters and their catchments. Water Quality and other estuary health indicators, for example sea grass condition, have been measured for 12 months, and the results analysed to provide a description of the overall condition of the entire system.
Report Card 2009(PDF, 7MB) and Technical Report 2009(PDF, 31MB)
Estuarine Vegetation Monitoring
Estuarine Vegetation Monitoring Program(PDF, 1MB)
Older Water Quality Monitoring Reports
Spatially Intensive Approach to Water Quality Monitoring in the Rous River Catchment - Bradley Eyre and Peter Pepperell - December, 1997(PDF, 5MB)
Water Quality in the Upper Tweed Catchment - KEC Science - May 1999(PDF, 3MB)
Tweed River Water Quality Review - WBM Oceanics Australia(PDF, 3MB)
Tweed Platypus Project
The diverse and beautiful freshwater streams and rivers in the Tweed Shire are home to an amazing and ancient animal, the platypus. The platypus has ancestors dating back over 110 million years ago and it is one of only two kinds of mammals in the world (aside from the echidna) that lays eggs (a monotreme). The platypus has strong genetic links with reptiles and birds and is of immense scientific interest.
The Tweed Platypus Project aims to protect and rehabilitate platypus habitat and secure platypus populations in the shire. We still know very little of platypus behaviour and population trends in the Tweed. To get a better understanding of where platypus live and their conservation needs, Council is collecting sighting records and assisting community groups and individuals to establish platypus watch surveys.
Council has produced a beautiful and information-packed platypus poster which is available for free at Council offices in Murwillumbah or Tweed Heads. Landowners can contact Council for information on how to make their waterways platypus friendly. Schools and community groups are welcome to contact us for a resource kit or for further information.
Where do platypus live?
Platypus live only in Australia. They live as far north as Cooktown in Queensland and down to Tasmania. It is primarily nocturnal, living in creeks and rivers from cold highland areas to tropical rainforests. It’s presence in our waterways can be a good indicator of the health of our environment, however we still know very little of this iconic animal’s lifestyle in the Tweed. We know the platypus is widespread in the Tweed, but there are very few sightings that have been recorded and little information available on where it lives and its numbers. In many areas across Australia platypus are struggling due to drought, temperature increases, pollution, habitat degradation, and loss, fish traps, illegal trapping and predation by feral or domestic animals.
How you can help
We all have a role to play in protecting this shy little Australian!
- Report platypus sightings - fill out the online Platypus Sighting Report Survey or print out the Platypus Sighting Report Form(PDF, 69KB), fill it in and return to Tweed Shire Council. Council is collecting platypus sightings to better understand where they live and whether populations are increasing or decreasing and how we can help. Records will be kept confidential and the information will be used to identify what education and conservation actions are needed to help protect platypus populations.
- Download an app - the Australian Platypus Sighting iPhone app can be used to report sightings from your smartphone.
- Contact Council for a Platypus Pack on tips to spot and report platypus sightings; or to assist in organising a Platypus Watch group in your local waterway.
- Report illegal fishing activity such as the use of banned ‘opera house’ style yabbie traps that drown platypus and other air breathing animals such as turtles. Call NSW Fisheries hotline 1800 043 536. A description of an opera house net and further information can be found on NSW Primary Industries Fact Sheet.
What can be done to protect platypus on my property?
Platypus FacePlatypus populations are generally highest in numbers in freshwater environments that have permanent pools surrounded by a mix of native shrubs, trees and groundcovers providing stable undercut banks. Overhanging vegetation provides excellent cover for platypus to feed and stable banks allows platypus to create complex burrows for resting and raising young. A diverse mix of native species with strong matted roots protects creek and river banks against erosion and shades the water surface which maintains water quality.
Waterways containing cobbled stones on the creek bed, and natural woody debris such as logs and large branches provides healthy habitat for aquatic invertebrates, the main food source for platypus. Stabilising creek and river banks from erosion can reduce sand and fine sediments from entering the waterway and smothering aquatic habitats that directly support platypus populations.
- Retain logs and large branches wherever possible in streams, rivers and lakes to contribute to the quality of platypus habitat.
- Protect creek and river banks from stock trampling, particularly within 10m of the water’s edge in areas where platypus may occur.
- Maintain or replace native groundcovers, shrubs and trees to stabilise banks and increase infiltration of rain and nutrients into the soil. A list of suitable plant species for Tweed sub-catchments is available here Species by Location Planting Guide(PDF, 2MB)
- Carry out weed removal activities in an environmentally sensitive manner that avoids erosion and maintains as much protective cover as possible on the banks.
- Reduce sediment, herbicide and fertiliser run-off into waterways to protect water quality.
- Reduce or eliminate barbed wire in creeks and waterways as platypus can become entangled.
- Cover water pump intake points with mesh or a grill – platypus can be sucked into them.
- If you are a landowner in the Tweed Shire, consider applying for a River Health Grant to protect our waterways. More information see River Health Grants(PDF, 981KB).
Erosion and sediment control
When it rains, large volumes of soil and sediment are washed into waterways from exposed soil on building, development and road and infrastructure construction sites.
This runoff pollutes the Coast’s waterways and stormwater systems, causing excessive growth of algae, smothering sea grasses and aquatic life and reducing both biodiversity and the value of our recreational fisheries by suffocating or driving away fish. Sediment runoff can also lead to road hazards and localised flooding.
Polluting waterways and stormwater systems also means increased costs to maintain infrastructure and canals. This form of pollution is manageable and can be minimised.
Council has a role to play in educating residents, businesses, builders and developers about the importance of minimising soil and sediment runoff as well as regulating the installation of adequate control measures.
Council seeks to ensure that those who cause land disturbance understand the issues of concern, plan their developments appropriately, and manage their sites in the best way possible to protect the environment and in particular the coast’s waterways. Legislation exists which provides for penalties and the ability for Council to instigate legal action against those who do not use the correct erosion and sediment control measures. This legislation allows for the issue of penalty infringement notices to be issued for certain minor breaches and the serving of notices and orders which may result in court proceedings for major offences causing environmental harm.
Erosion and sediment control for developers
Developers should refer to Development Design Specification D7 - Stormwater Quality(PDF, 552KB) for details of how to manage stormwater during the construction phase to minimise erosion and sediment generation.
Question: Do I need permission from Council to undertake erosion control works in tidal waters, including canals?
Answer: Yes. Property owners who wish to undertake erosion control works in tidal waters, including canals, need approval from Council. Property owners who wish to undertake erosion control works in freshwater reaches of the Tweed River or one of its tributaries will need consent from the NSW Office of Water.
Tidal wetlands and fish habitat
Large areas of the lower Tweed River estuary are comprised of tidal wetlands, including seagrass, mangroves and saltmarsh. These areas are extremely valuable fish habitats. Tidal wetlands are protected by NSW legislation.
The Importance of Riparian Vegetation to the health and stability of aquatic systems.
Riparian Vegetation(PDF, 85KB)
River management educational resources
Please select the required educational resource from the list supplied below:
Tweed River entrance sand bypassing project
The Tweed River Entrance Sand Bypassing Project is a sand transport system that collects sand from the southern side of the Tweed River entrance and pumps it under the river to outlets on the northern side. From there sand is transported by wave currents to nourish southern Gold Coast beaches. This process also aims to keep the entrance to the Tweed River clear of sand to improve navigation for boats.
Please visit tweedsandbypass.nsw.gov.au for more information.