A holistic understanding of our waterways
Since 2000, Healthy Waterways has been delivering one of the most comprehensive freshwater, estuarine and marine Monitoring Programs in Australia. Healthy Waterways manages the Program on behalf of our member organisations. The Monitoring Program provides a regional assessment of the ecosystem health for each of South East Queensland’s major catchments, river estuaries and Moreton Bay zones. Healthy Waterways synthesises the data and information to produce an annual Report Card, which provides a clear understanding of the health of our waterways, and highlights any issues that require intervention.
In 2015, the Monitoring Program and Report Card have evolved to provide a deeper understanding of the current pressures on waterway condition and, importantly, what needs to be done to enhance the social and economic benefits they provide.
What is different in the 2015 Healthy Waterways Report Card?
This year, the Healthy Waterways Monitoring Program and Report Card have evolved to:
- include additional indicators in the environmental condition assessment that now measure the amount and impact of mud (sediment) entering the waterways, and the extent of key habitats (such as riparian vegetation).
- introduce a new Waterway Benefits Rating, which measures the level of social and economic benefits our waterways provide to local communities.
- begin to explore the 'actions' and the willingness and ability of landholders and community groups to help protect and improve the waterways.
Why has the Healthy Waterways Report Card evolved?
Environmental Pressures: Since Healthy Waterways began monitoring, reducing point source pollution (i.e. nutrients) has been a key focus. Through extensive wastewater treatment plant upgrades over several years, point source pollution has improved significantly and is now a reduced pressure that we continue to monitor. The increasing amount of mud (sediment) entering the waterways has now become a critical issue. As a result, Healthy Waterways has refocused their independent monitoring to help address this pressure and inform the protection and restoration of key habitats, such as riparian vegetation which stabilises creek and river banks, and seagrass which supports a diversity of plants and animals.
A Waterway Benefits Rating has been introduced to provide a benchmark that will measure future improvements and increases in the social and economic benefits that our waterways provide to the community. This provides a deeper understanding of the impact environmental condition has on waterway benefits, and the action required.
This holistic monitoring approach provides a powerful tool to identify, prioritise and evaluate best practice waterway management that will achieve significant environmental outcomes and enhance the community’s quality of life. The evolved Monitoring Program will provide critical information to support the Resilient Rivers Initiative by informing priority actions and supporting the setting and tracking of targets to deliver increased agricultural productivity, secure drinking water and improve flood and climate protection.
Find out about the projects undertaken by local landholders and community groups in your local catchment area to protect and improve our waterways, and how you can get involved.
Ongoing investment in maintaining and improving our waterways will benefit the environment, economy and essentially our quality of life.