Water quality monitoring workshops

Farmers are hitting the creeks to learn more about waterway health in their patch.

Landholders of all ages waded into the issue recently, taking samples from Tablelands creeks to check everything from pH levels to the types of tiny creatures living in the water.

Terrain NRM’s Evizel Seymour said macroinvertebrates such as dragonfly, mayfly larvae and freshwater shrimps were great indicators of waterway health.

“Water bugs respond quickly to water quality changes and some species are more sensitive than others so they can give us a good idea of waterway health, along with things like pH levels, temperature and turbidity levels,’’ she said.

“We compared a section of Peterson Creek and Malanda Creek. We found that the turbidity at Peterson Creek was higher than Malanda Creek, with an abundance of macro-invertebrates. Malanda Creek had less numbers but more sensitive macro-invertebrates.”

Landholders were given buckets, pH kits, turbidity tubes, thermometers, invertebrate identification sheets for ongoing monitoring on their farms.

Malanda grazier Barry Thurling said he was impressed with the number of aquatic insects.

“The variety and number of critters in our samples, and the variations, were surprising,’’ he said.

“Water quality is generating a lot more interest as time goes on – it’s important to everybody.”

The water sampling field day is part of a $2.3 million Upper Johnstone Integrated Project, funded by the Queensland Government’s Natural Resources Investment Program and delivered by Terrain NRM. The focus is on erosion hotspots in the Tablelands-Innisfail region, helping landholders to repair erosion and improve pastures, and reducing sediments loads entering the Great Barrier Reef.

The Johnstone River catchment is a priority for water quality improvement – it has the Far North’s highest sediment reduction target in the Australian and Queensland Government’s Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan.

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