Amazing Student’s Secret Weapon for Brisbane River from brown to blue

Brisbane residents have long wondered why the Brisbane River isn’t the sparkling blue waterway many expect. While the murky brown colour might raise concerns about pollution, a University of Queensland student is on a mission to dispel that myth and transform the river’s aesthetics.

Jesper Nielsen, a PhD candidate based in Jindalee, is determined to solve the mystery behind the river’s brown tinge. Contrary to popular belief, his research suggests the Brisbane River is actually in its healthiest state ever. The culprit behind the unappealing colour? Resuspended mud.

Nielsen’s research differentiates between the riverbed’s composition and the riverbanks. While the centre of the river consists primarily of sand, the mud banks contribute the most to the brown colour. This mud gets stirred up by tidal movements, continuously re-polluting the water column and giving the river its characteristic hue.

To combat this natural phenomenon, Nielsen isn’t proposing drastic measures. Instead, his focus is on a natural solution: bacopa. This aquatic plant, native to Queensland, is known for its ability to thrive in muddy environments. Nielsen’s theory is that by introducing bacopa strategically throughout the river system, particularly in Jindalee, the plants will help stabilise the mud banks, preventing them from being disturbed by the tides.

Last year, Nielsen took a significant step towards testing his hypothesis. He constructed a 10-metre “turbulence tower” in Jindalee. This innovative structure serves a dual purpose: it disrupts the tidal flow, reducing the amount of mud being resuspended, and it provides an ideal platform for the bacopa to flourish.

While the project is still in its early stages, Nielsen’s determination and innovative approach have captured the imagination of many Brisbane residents. The potential to transform the iconic river into a more visually appealing waterway while simultaneously promoting a natural solution has garnered significant interest. 

The success of Nielsen’s project in Jindalee could pave the way for a large-scale rollout throughout the Brisbane River, forever changing the way we see this vital waterway.

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