River Reach Program

The River Reach Program is an initiative by Rous County Council to reduce threats to ecological integrity and water quality within our water supply catchments of Emigrant Creek and the Wilson River through targeted river reach-based improvements.

These are long term strategies that aim to continually improve water quality in our catchment areas by improving riparian vegetation and reducing impact from invasive weeds and run off from agriculture and residential areas. The below video shows an overview of the work carried out for Emigrant Creek River Reach - Stage One.


Emigrant Creek River Reach Program - Stage One

Completed in June 2020, stage one of the Emigrant Creek River Reach Program was developed in 2017 as a high priority action from the Emigrant Creek Catchment Management Plan to address watercourse stabilisation and riparian condition.

The Natural Resource Management team at Rous County Council, with support from several bush regeneration contractor teams, worked in partnership with landholders upstream of Emigrant Creek Dam over three years to undertake creek bank rehabilitation.

Below shows the bush regenerated areas on private land in the Emigrant Creek catchment.  To view the map as a PDF, please click here.

River Reach Project - Emigrant Creek Bush Regeneration Areas - Private Land

The project included bush regeneration along 23 hectares of high priority land on seven properties in the Emigrant Creek catchment, along with three bank restoration projects.

Northern Rivers catchment illustrative map with indicator of completed River Reach Emigrant Creek Phase One site

With the rehabilitation works completed for stage one, a handover back to the landowners took place outlining what has been done and what will happen, moving forward as an ongoing knowledge-sharing partnership.

Current River Reach projects

Two new river reach plans for key water catchment areas are being finalised by the Catchments and Cultural Engagement Team. These plans identify the key risks and opportunities for restoration in particular areas of the water catchment. They cover the Wilsons River between Boatharbour Nature Reserve and Eltham Village, and the uppermost catchment of Emigrant Creek in the Newrybar and Tintenbar areas (Emigrant Creek River Reach Program – Stage 2). 

Rous has worked with landowners and local bush regeneration experts to develop property specific Site Action Plans for these reaches during late 2022, including plans for some structural works alongside bush regeneration and weed control. We will also be implementing restoration on properties in accordance with existing Site Action Plans already developed through our close working relationship with the Boatharbour Landcare Group. 

Rous will be undertaking on-ground works in the Wilsons and Emigrant catchments during 2022/23, 2023/24 and 2024/25 within these two river reach areas. We will endeavour to increase the scope of works achievable by working with partners and gaining additional funding from external grants where and when available.

Emigrant Creek River Reach Program - Stage Two

A plan for the uppermost catchment of Emigrant Creek in the Newrybar and Tintenbar areas is currently being finalised.

As part of this work, ten site action plans have been developed with key landholders in the area that will allow Rous to take the priorities of the River Reach Program and apply them to onground works in 2022 and beyond.

Works to be undertaken will include off-stream water points, riverbank fencing, and weed control and bush regeneration activities to improve the quality of the surface water flowing into Emigrant Creek Dam. 

Click on the thumbnail to view a map of the Emigrant Creek River Reach Program, showing assessed riparian widths.

Wilsons River Reach Program - Boatharbour to Eltham

A detailed river reach assessment and plan for the Wilsons River between Boatharbour and Eltham was completed in early 2023. The reach plan identifies opportunities for improvement of water quality, through highlighting geomorphological risks, key river features, native vegetation and weed extents, and broader landscape habitat corridors (such as between McLeans Ridges to Boatharbour and the Wilsons River). There has been a high level of engagement with local landholders in regards to the river and landcare activities, and Rous are very appreciative to the Boatharbour Landcare Group in particular for assisting with this plan. 

Download the Wilsons River Reach Plan (25mb).

Rous will continue to work with landowners to develop Site Action Plans for this area in the remaining period of 2023. Rous will also implement works on properties in accordance with existing Site Action Plans, with this work having begun on three properties in April 2023.

What you can do to help improve our waterways and drinking water

There are several easy things landholders in this region can do to help preserve our catchment areas and improve the quality of our drinking water.

Weed removal

Remove weeds from your property, especially invasive weeds growing close to any creeks, rivers or waterways. Both terrestrial and aquatic weeds can travel long distances along watercourses and have significant negative ecological effects downstream. When weeds overgrow and choke smaller waterways, native vegetation is unable to grow, reducing soil stability and potentially impacting on oxygen levels in the water, which is harmful to aquatic life.

Remove weeds from your property, especially invasive terrestrial and aquatic weeds.

Livestock exclusion areas

Fence off areas near waterways, creeks and rivers to create livestock exclusion areas. Livestock can cause significant damage to sensitive riparian vegetation areas, leading to bank destabilisation, soil erosion, increased sediment and turbidity leading to poor water quality and less habitat for native wildlife.

Revegetated buffer zones

Revegetating waterways, creeks and rivers on your property creates a buffer zone that reduces run-off from agriculture, improves soil stability, creates a healthier environment for native plant and animal species and improves water quality.

Revegetating waterways, creeks and rivers on your property creates a buffer zone from residential and agricultural run off.

A great resource for landowners who want to get help protect our catchment is the Landholders Guide to Looking After the Richmond River Catchment.

To find out more about improving our catchment areas, contact council@rous.nsw.gov.au or send us a message via our contact us page.