In News, Report Card

The Mackay-Whitsunday Healthy Rivers to Reef Partnership has released the region’s latest waterway health scores. You can check out the results as published in the Daily Mercury.

Waterway health an A-grade issue for our region

The latest waterway health scores for the Mackay-Whitsunday region have been released.

Julie Boyd, Chair of the Mackay-Whitsunday Healthy Rivers to Reef Partnership, said while overall results were a mix of Bs, Cs and Ds, there was no doubt that waterway health was an A-grade issue.

“We need continued improvement, action and funding when it comes to better water quality,” she said.

Following Cyclone Debbie, the Whitsunday and Central (Mackay) inshore zones dropped in overall condition from a Moderate to Poor.

This was driven by declines in water quality, coral and seagrass condition.

“Of course, after Debbie we would expect our marine environment to have taken a hit and this is definitely the case,” Mrs Boyd said.

Carlos and Julie near the water.“While these scores don’t give us the whole picture, they have highlighted the importance of giving our coral and seagrass ecosystems the best conditions we can for recovery. A more complete picture of the cyclone’s overall impact will be detailed in the next report card, expected mid 2019.”

Results are based on pre and post Debbie conditions, and include just three months of heavy rainfall conditions following the cyclone.

The condition of our estuaries remained primarily Good, with seven of the eight key estuaries receiving an overall B grade.

However, sediment and nutrients in our major river basins were Moderate to Poor. This is similar to previous years. Pesticides remain a priority issue for the Pioneer and the Plane basins and new monitoring has highlighted they are an issue in the Proserpine basin too.

Mrs Boyd stressed this did not reflect a lack of action in these communities.

“We have taken some big steps toward better water quality. What these results show is that we need to continue to do that. Our catchment and our backyard run direct to the Great Barrier Reef and we want future generations to enjoy our region as we do.”

She said it was important to fill monitoring gaps.

“To know where we’re going, we need to know where we’re starting from. We are pleased to announce this year we have new data not previously available for the Don and Proserpine basins. And thanks to a new monitoring program currently underway, next year we will have the first score for the southern inshore zone (offshore of Carmila).”

Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson said the local community was becoming more aware of waterway health.

“This awareness is vital, it is the way forward to improvement. We love a water based lifestyle, involving everything from industry and agriculture, to fishing and recreation,” he said.

“These annual results help give us the information we need to make informed decisions around waterway management. They are an important step towards improving the understanding of the water quality story of the Mackay-Whitsunday region.”

Note: Results reflect the period from July 2016 – June 2017.

Mackay-Whitsunday is one of a series of waterway health report cards now being produced in regional Queensland to complement the Great Barrier Reef wide report card. The Queensland and Australian Governments support report card development as an action under the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan.


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