LDC, NESP leaders present together at water quality conference

The LDC project has collaborated with many partners during its implementation, providing an opportunity for the team to co-author conference papers and co-present the exciting work taking place in the BBB. 

In April, NQ Dry Tropics CEO and LDC Project Director Scott Crawford, and LDC Land Management Support Coordinator Rodger Walker attended the National Environmental Science Program (NESP) Tropical Water Quality (TWQ) Hub conference and co-presented with the NESP research project leads. 

The two projects taking place in the BBB are:

  • NQ Dry Tropics CEO Scott Crawford co-presented a paper titled ‘Quantifying the effectiveness of gully remediation on off-site water quality: results from demonstration sites in the Burdekin catchment’ with CSIRO’s Bec Bartley.

    Quantifying the effectiveness of gully rehabilitation on water quality: Linkages with LDC around large scale gully monitoring and reporting. Scott Crawford co-presented with Rebecca Bartley, CSIRO. More detail on the results is available here.

  • Targeting Burdekin sediments through landholder monitoring and engagement alongside tracing and modelling: Linkages through the LDC Community Water Monitoring Project and the modelling requirements generally for the LDC project. 

Rodger Walker co-presented with Zoe Bainbridge, TropWATER.

TropWATER’s Steve Lewis, NQ Dry Tropics’ Rodger Walker and TropWATER’s Zoe Bainbridge at the NESP Tropical Water Quality Hub Conference in Cairns.

An automated water quality monitoring station installed at Glen Bowen.

To learn more about the results of the Community Water Monitoring Project, refer to the LDC Community Water Quality Sampling for Sediments and Nutrients within the Bowen Broken Bogie Catchments 2019 -2020 Wet Season Update

The NESP Tropical Water Quality (TWQ) Hub Impacts & Achievements Conference was held at the Pullman Reef Hotel, Cairns on 28-29 April. 

The aim of the conference was to showcase the impacts and achievements of its investment in enabling local, regional, state and national stakeholders to improve water quality outcomes.

During the past six years the NESP Tropical Water Quality (TWQ) Hub has provided research and delivered solutions that are helping to maintain and improve tropical water quality from catchments to the coast. 

For further information, this is the conference program and abstracts, including the two with which LDC is aligned.

A water quality monitoring group was established to collect samples during rain events.

Glen Bowen gully remediation site before on-ground works started.

Glen Bowen gully remediation site after the first wet season post-works.

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Figure 1. Total fine sediment reduction by project type and erosion source. Inset shows the proportion of the total project area for each project type.

These estimates have been calculated using two methods: 

1) The pollutant reduction component of the Alluvium/Great Barrier Reef Foundation (GBRF) investment tool for hillslope and streambank erosion management projects; 

2) The Reef Trust Gully Toolbox method for gully erosion management projects. The LDC Water Quality Report 2020 (Waterhouse et al., 2020) highlights that a number of assumptions underlay these calculations, therefore these figures should be treated as the best available estimate of sediment reductions to date.

Preventing sediment from reaching the Great Barrier Reef

Each wet season sediment is washed into local waterways and out to the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). 

Most sediment is very fine, and can stay suspended for a long time and can travel great distances. Valuable topsoil is lost from production, and increased concentrations on the reef can be harmful to seagrasses and corals. 

Landholders in the BBB have completed 69 on-ground water quality practice changes, and it is estimated that these have contributed a fine sediment reduction of 6,154 tonnes per year from reaching the GBR. 

Of this, approximately half of the sediment savings are attributable to grazing land management changes on hillslopes and streambanks, and the other half as a result of gully remediation treatments across a broad range of scales, as shown in the graphs above. 

The table below also highlights the relatively small area of intervention in the gully management projects compared to the large sediment savings that these can achieve - 60 per cent of the sediment savings over only 4 per cent of the project area.

Table 1. Estimated sediment reductions (tonnes) from projects completed in the LDC Project to date.

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*GLMWW = Grazing Land Management Wire and Water

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*The Exploring New Incentives activity area has provided an opportunity for graziers to adopt improved land management practices through a range of activities. For some of these properties, it was the first time they signed contracts for on-ground works.

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The LDC project monitors four gully sites (represented in this table) with gold standard equipment and analysis, carried out by CSIRO.

Results have been compiled in a preliminary report from Bartley et al (2020), with the final report expected to be released by the end of 2020. The preliminary report shows all four sites have indicators of improvements, notably the Strathbogie and Mt Wickham sites.

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Reef regulations - grazing, standard conditions

  1. For land in good or fair condition (more than 50 per cent ground cover at 30 September), continue using measures to maintain land condition.
  2. For land in poor condition (less than 50 per cent ground cover at 30 September), steps must be taken to improve land condition.
  3. For land in degraded condition (less than 20 per cent ground cover at 30 September), steps must be taken to improve land condition OR prevent areas from further degrading or expanding.
  4. Keep records of measures taken and also of agricultural chemicals, fertiliser and mill mud or mill ash applied to land.
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