Monitoring ramps up with wet weather

January 14, 2019

Wet season weather events have sent staff working on a community water quality project into overdrive.

The locally designed Wet Tropics Major Integrated Project (MIP) is responding to community demand for relevant, local information about water quality, and solutions that are informed by landscape conditions and local knowledge.

Farmers in the Tully and Johnstone regions are trialling ways to reduce nitrogen, sediment and pesticide run-off to the Great Barrier Reef lagoon.

The project’s water quality leader, Alicia Buckle, said that having access to water quality data at a sub-catchment scale means growers have a better idea of what’s happening in their patch.

“We’ve got 30 monitoring sites across the Tully-Johnstone region.”

“It takes a lot of time to physically get to all of the sites, and we have to mobilise quickly in response to weather events,” Ms Buckle said.

Waterways are being monitored for dissolved and total nutrients, sediments and pesticides. Routine manual sampling across all sites provides information on how different land use affects water quality and how water quality changes as it moves from the upper catchment down to the end of the catchment.

Event sampling happens when there is increased waterway discharge because of high rainfall.

“Event-based sampling at selected sites complements the other monitoring going on, and gives us extra information about how water quality is influenced by rainfall, run-off from land, and stream flow,” Ms Buckle said.

“With the recent events we’ve absolutely needed all hands on deck.”

Mamu traditional owner Shai Ivey has been a welcome addition to the team, and recently completed sampling training with the Department of Environment and Science.

“It’s good to be doing this. I like working outside and I wanted to make a change and learn something new,” said Mr Ivey.

“I also want to give back to the land.”

Shai Ivey taking water samples for the Wet Tropics Major Integrated Project
Shai Ivey taking water samples for the Wet Tropics Major Integrated Project

Monitoring results from event sampling have recently been returned from the lab, and MIP staff are busy analysing the data. Once this is finished, results will be provided back to Tully growers at shed meetings in late January, and Johnstone growers in February.

The Wet Tropics MIP is funded by the Queensland Government through the Queensland Reef Water Quality Program.

Shai Ivey, Emma-Lee Harper and Romain Kobel water sampling for the Wet Tropics Major Integrated Project
Shai Ivey, Emma-Lee Harper and Romain Kobel at a local scale monitoring site