Fitzroy river
Fitzroy river

River report card: Fitzroy’s health report is in

AS National Water Week comes back around for another year, so too has the reminder of a need for ongoing monitoring of the Fitzroy Basin.

The Fitzroy Basin is made up of nearly 20,000kms of waterways and is the largest catchment draining onto the east coast of Australia.

Fitzroy Partnership for River Health executive officer, Dr Leigh Stitz said assessing water quality to develop a publicly accessible, easy to understand report card was at the heart of the group’s work.

Fitzroy partnership for River Health Executive Officer Dr. Leigh Stitz with Independent Science Panel member Dr. Barbara Robson.
Fitzroy partnership for River Health Executive Officer Dr. Leigh Stitz with Independent Science Panel member Dr. Barbara Robson.

“Since 2012 we have produced eight annual report cards on the health of the Fitzroy Basin’s waterways and National Water Week is a great time to highlight these and the significant work we do,” Dr Stitz said.

She said a joint effort from community, government, industry and research organisations was the key to independent reporting on the ecosystem’s health.

“Our partners contribute data and funding, which enables us to work with our independent science panel to produce an open and transparent, annual assessment on waterway health,” she said.

“Through their involvement in the partnership, our partners are showing their commitment to sustainable use of waterways and providing a more complete picture of river health for the Fitzroy Basin.”

The most recent results available (2017-18) show the basin is, and has consistently been, in a “fair condition” having been awarded a C grade.

The catchment is broken down into 11 catchments, some scoring better than others but none of the 11 catchments fell below the C grade in the last report.

The estuary, Fitzroy (passing through Rockhampton), Comet, Upper Dawson, and Lower Isaac all scored a B grade.

An Australian-first streambank stabilisation project on the Fitzroy River will reduce sediment flow into the Great Barrier Reef during future flooding events.
An Australian-first streambank stabilisation project on the Fitzroy River will reduce sediment flow into the Great Barrier Reef during future flooding events.

A simplified criterion of each grade states a C grade has achieved “a mix of good and poor levels of water quality and biological health indicators”.

To reach a B grade, “most water quality and biological health indicators meet desired levels”.

Annual assessments on the suitability of water for agricultural use, both crop and stock are also produced as well as treated water for human use in Rockhampton and Central Highlands Region townships, with all townships awarded A grades.”

Fitzroy Partnership for River Health also provides a community portal where schools, community groups or members of the community can enter their own water monitoring results.

More than 200 sample results have been entered, mostly from the Rockhampton area.

Dr Stitz encouraged the community to engage in the health of the local waterways this National Water Week (October 21-27).

You can do so by visiting www.riverhealth.org.au.