Rainforest people help improve water quality

January 28, 2020

Mamu and Gulgnay people are helping to monitor water quality in their country through the Wet Tropics Major Integrated Project.

Five indigenous water quality samplers have joined the project team to help collectsamples from waterways and piezometers in the Tully and Johnstone catchments.

The community-designed project is trialling different methods to improve water quality in farming hotspots, and ultimately the Great Barrier Reef.

Local scale water quality monitoring and treatment systems are important parts of this multi-faceted project, which works closely with landholders to monitor and evaluate water quality flowing from agricultural land into water catchments.

The new staff have undertaken training with water quality scientists from the Queensland Government’s Department of Environment and Science, and they’ve gained specialised skills

Shai Ivey has been working on the project for over a year. He’s found the job rewarding and enjoys being out in the field.

“Every day is different. I’ve learnt new skills and enjoy working with lots of different people - from scientists to project staff,” he said.  “It’s good to be part of a team and aproject that’s helping Country.”

Gulgnay elder Clarence Kinjun has been involved in the project since it began, and his input was invaluable during ‘Walking the Landscape’ workshops in the project’s design phase.

Clarence now helps with piezometer water quality sampling at demonstration sites. He also maintains several of the project’s in-situ water monitoring stations and flumes.

He featured in a television commercial about the project last year, and he believes getting the word out is an important part of caring for country.

“What happens on the land affects the ocean,’’ he said.  “It shouldn’t rest on one individual, it’s up to all of us to look after country and land.”

Clarence and Mamu elder Alf Joyce have also helped with cultural heritage assessments of catchment repair sites and were on the scene during wetlands construction.

With the wet season approaching, Water Quality Leader Alicia Buckle is thankful for the extra help and knowledge that the new staff will bring to the Wet Tropics Integrated Project.

“This project relies heavily on people monitoring in the field,’’ she said.  “Our new team members will be a huge help for data collection, which is a fundamental element.”

The Wet Tropics Major Integrated Project is funded by the Queensland Government through the Queensland Reef Water Quality Program.   The project also includes the construction of water treatment systems ranging from bioreactors and high-efficiency sediment basins to wetlands.

For more information, visit the Wet Tropics Major Integrated Project webpage.

Mamu traditional owner Shai Ivey water quality monitoring at Banyan Creek.