The wastewater stabilisation ponds at the Wyreema Wastewater Treatment Plant site, are a locally significant and biodiverse artificial wetland system and drought refuge for large numbers of waterbirds. Since 2013, members of the Toowoomba Bird Observers (TBO) have recorded 87 species at the site, including 35 species of waterbird. The habitat attracts several species rarely, if ever, seen elsewhere in the Toowoomba area. These include Pink-eared Duck, Australasian Shoveler, Australian Spotted Crake, Red-kneed Dotterel and Little Grassbird, and drought refugees such as Freckled Duck and Black-tailed Native Hen.

Wyreema and Cambooya sewage has been treated at the site for over 20 years. The plant was built by the previous Cambooya Shire Council then taken over by Toowoomba Region Council (TRC) after shire amalgamation. During this time, the nutrient-rich ponds have provided a reliable food source and safe haven for birds and other wildlife. The thick vegetation that has established around the margins of the ponds, along with native trees and flowering natives on-site, encourage various non-aquatic species including Black Honeyeaters during drought.

Last October, Mick Atzeni of the Toowoomba Bird Observers and Environmental Modeller in Animal Science at the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, discovered the site was in the process of being decommissioned by TRC, as part of a regional upgrade strategy to cope with the growth of the community. The plant has been replaced by a transfer station which will pump the raw sewage to Westbrook’s new transfer station and then on to the Wetalla water reclamation facility in Toowoomba. The effluent will be permanently cut off from the ponds sometime in March, after which the ponds will eventually dry up to a point where the ecosystem will be unable to bounce back. Sadly, this oasis of biodiversity will be lost unless a cost-effective solution for sustaining the wetland can be found.

Wyreema Wetlands is a RESTRICTED ACCESS SITE, managed by the Toowoomba Regional Council.  People wanting to visit the site must undergo an on-site induction by an approved representative.  For further information or dates and times of upcoming inductions,  please contact Mick Atzeni.

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