Water Quality Monitoring

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A community-assisted water quality monitoring project was established in 2003. Its aim is to investigate suspended sediment and nutrient concentrations in waterways throughout the Dry Tropics Catchments.

The catchment's large size (approximately 138 000 square km), steep upper catchments and dry tropical environment exacerbated by widespread grazing , all combine to form a system that is highly efficient in transporting freshwater runoff and associated suspended sediments and nutrients off the landscape into downstream environments, including wetlands and the Great Barrier Reef lagoon.

The water quality monitoring project targets wet season rainfall flow events which comprise approximately 80% of the annual discharge from the Burdekin River. Due to the irregular nature of event sampling, it has been necessary to develop a network of landholder volunteers to assist with sampling, especially where sampling sites were easily accessible from homesteads on pastoral leased land and sometimes inaccessible from other parts of the catchment.

During flow events community volunteers collect grab samples from subcatchment waterways to capture changes in suspended sediments and nutrient concentrations over the flow hydrograph. This project has successfully collected samples from the major subcatchments in the Burdekin region ( Belyando, Suttor, Bowen, Upper Burdekin and Cape catchments) over the 2002/03, 2003/04, 2004/05 and 2005/06 wet seasons.

In 2006 results, consistent with the 3 previous monitored wet seasons, showed the Bowen River sub-catchment to have the highest event mean of total suspended solids concentration compared with all other monitored sub-catchments. The Upper Burdekin River sub-catchment, however, showed the highest total total suspended solids load. This is due to the very high volumes of flow discharged by this sub-catchment.

Coastal catchments with intensive land uses (such as sugar cane farming and horticulture), all showed high nitrate event mean concentration, with the highest levels recorded at the West Barratta Creek, the Don and the Bohle Rivers.

This data provides a baseline from which to examine trends in sediment and nutrient delivery over time and helps to validate modelling of sediment transport. All of the data has feed into the development of the Burdekin’s Water Quality Improvement Plan.

Results: Water Quality Monitoring results

Water Sampling © NQ Dry Tropics 2007
Water Sampling 2007 © NQ Dry Tropics
Water Quality Monitoring Sites © NQ Dry Tropics 2007
Water Quality Monitoring Sites 2007 © NQ Dry Tropics

This is a legacy website. Content is not being updated but is kept as an archive.
Updated NRM information is now held in the NQ Dry Tropics NRM Information Portal at http://nrm.nqdrytropics.com.au/.
while corporate information about NQ Dry Tropics is held on our main website at http://www.nqdrytropics.com.au
NQ Dry Tropics Website