Nine river and creek sites across the Bowen-Broken-Bogie (BBB) catchment are being sampled by landholders during rainfall-generated high flow events of the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 wet seasons.
These landholders make up the LDC Community Water Monitoring Group and were trained by the Centre for Tropical Water and Aquatic Ecosystem Research (TropWATER) on how to collect and store water samples.
Multiple water samples are collected during each flow event to capture changing suspended sediment and nutrient (nitrogen and phosphorus) concentrations over the rising, peak and falling stages of stream flow.
Data collected for this project aims to improve our understanding of the loss of soil (and the nutrients attached to this soil) from the land into waterways during high rainfall events, and to quantify differences in the contribution of sediments and nutrients from each of the BBB sub-catchments.
A drier than average wet season during 2019-2020 resulted in less rainfall events and samples being collected by landholders, however preliminary data shows similar trends in concentrations being captured to last year. This provides validity and confidence to the results obtained.
In two years of community monitoring 149 samples of sediments and nutrients have been collected by BBB landholders, from nine tributary sites. More detailed results from the more recent wet season will be released in coming months.
Data through the community water monitoring program helps to inform future investment priorities and is also shared with the Source Catchments modelling team to improve scientific modelling.
The data is shared with the Queensland Government’s Paddock to Reef program to monitor progress against the water quality targets and actions under the Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan.
Click here to read the LDC Community Water Quality Sampling for sediments and nutrients in the Bowen-Broken-Bogie catchments 2018-2019 wet season.
Results for the 2019-20 wet season will be shared at the LDC project’s annual Community Update event on 18 September.
Water quality results booklets were distributed to LDC Community Water Monitoring Group members at a feedback session in Collinsville last year.
Learning how to collect water samples is Havilah Station grazier Rebecca Lathwell (centre) with help from TropWATER scientists Zoe Bainbridge and Steve Lewis.
TropWATER scientist Steve Lewis (left) and NQ Dry Tropics LDC Land Management Support Coordinator Rodger Walker.
All their own work
ONE of the key strengths of the local monitoring group is that by taking water samples themselves, landholders can learn from that water quality information and take the information back to the BBB grazing community and collectively, work out ways to improve local water quality.
Not only can local knowledge be put to good use, community-based monitoring broadens traditional scientific approaches and enhances social capital by strengthening the bonds within the community and with government.
This is why it’s important that scientists are involved with the LDC project, linking science with landholders in a way that enables research to be adapted and packaged in a more meaningful way for all Great Barrier Reef stakeholders.
It ensures landholders’ decisions and actions about land management practices are based on best available knowledge. It also opens the way to landholders’ knowledge and innovation complementing the formal science.