SLATERS Creek in North Lismore will be transformed from a degraded creek system into Lismore's first large-scale stormwater treatment wetland, with the $180,000 project set to commence in September.
Named as the successful tenderer for the project at Tuesday night's Lismore City Council meeting was the Brisbane-based Water and Carbon Group.
The newly named Banyam/Baigham Park will feature a bird-watching area, cycle paths and walkways, and large-scale native plantings.
The Banyam/Baigham Landcare group, formed two years ago, has already been hard at work at the site every second Saturday morning planting native trees in an effort to remediate the creek bank.
It was once one of several important wetlands surrounding urban Lismore and an Aboriginal women's bathing area which were sacrificed during the town's development.
"Natural wetlands are like the kidneys of the landscape," Lismore City Council's environmental strategies officer Vanessa Tallon said.
"It was the draining and destruction of Northern Rivers wetlands that spawned the black water, river pollution and subse- quent fish kills the region now suffers in major flooding.
"The whole Richmond floodplain had wetlands, but when farming was developing they were almost always drained or filled in.
"The wetlands cleaned up the water before it flowed into the river - unlike introduced species, the native wetland species don't die off in floodwaters as they can live underwater."
The $180,000 project will be funded from Lismore City Council's Stormwater Fund (an annual $25 charge on urban ratepayers) and could be the first of many similar projects around the Lismore region.
"Improving our creeks is vital to improving the overall health of our river," the council's environmental strategies co-ordinator Nick Stephens said.
"This is clever and best-practise management of our stormwater and will give us an excellent indi- cation of whether this can be used more widely in our 16 urban catchments."
"The project also aligns with what the community told us throughout the Imagine Lismore consultation - that they value the Wilsons River and want to see more done to restore it."