Queensland's Healthy Waterways launched the 2013 Ecosystem Health Report Card on Oct 23, providing insight into the health of South East Queensland’s waterways and Moreton Bay. This remarkable initiative has provided a model for other cities internationally and regularly informs developments within Australia to improve water quality.
About Healthy Waterways and the Ecosystem Health Monitoring Program
Healthy Waterways is a non government, not-for-profit organisation working to protect and improve waterway health. The Ecosystem Health Monitoring Program (EHMP) is one of the most comprehensive freshwater, estuarine and marine monitoring programs in Australia. The EHMP delivers a regional assessment of the ambient ecosystem health for each of South East Queensland’s (SEQ) 19 major catchments, 18 river estuaries and nine zones in Moreton Bay.
Healthy Waterways manages the program on behalf of member organisations, and it is delivered by a large team of experts from the Queensland Government, universities and CSIRO.
The annual Ecosystem Health Report Card highlights whether the health of the waterways is improving or declining. A total of 389 sites are monitored across SEQ and Moreton Bay: 135 freshwater sites are monitored biannually, and 254 estuarine and marine sites are monitored monthly.
The 2013 Report Card results show the mud and nutrients deposited into Moreton Bay during the 2011 and 2013 floods continues to reduce water clarity and stimulate the growth of algae.Last year, the health of seagrass beds and corals appeared to improve slightly. However, this year corals and seagrasses are showing signs of ongoing stress and decline. Perhaps the best news for the bay and estuaries was improvements linked to advances in sewage treatment, lowering the nutrient load.
One of the best grades on the report card came from the north in the Sunshine Coast. Noosa is a community where residents are embued with a strong environmental ethic. They have worked hard to protect their catchments, with good ecosystem health outcomes.
Some of the worst grades noted were catchments to the west and south where population growth and land change has drastically altered the catchment. The report card helps to identify where further management action is required.
Brisbane City Council Lord Mayor Graham Quirk said “Brisbane City Council’s vision is to become Australia’s most clean, green and water-smart city and this financial year we are investing more than $16 million to improve the health of our waterways.”