The 2011 Ecosystem Health Report Card was released on Wednesday 19 October, providing insight into the health of South East Queensland’s waterways and Moreton Bay following the January 2011 flood. The Report Card revealed the overall health grade for Moreton Bay has declined from a C to C-.
The Report Card, which presents ‘A to F’ waterway health grades, was released at four launch events across the region, following an intensive 12-month Ecosystem Health Monitoring Program (EHMP) coordinated by Healthy Waterways.
A representative of the Healthy Waterways Scientific Expert Panel, Professor Paul Greenfield, presented the 2011 Report Card results to Minister for Environment, Vicky Darling MP at today’s launch event in Brisbane.
Prof Paul Greenfield said that Moreton Bay has been struggling to recover since the drought breaking rain in 2009 caused increased sediment and nutrients to enter the bay from already degraded catchments.
“This is the third consecutive year that Moreton Bay has fallen below its long-term average of a B grade. Most of the pollution transported by the flood was deposited on the western side of the bay, north of the Brisbane River, causing a decline in Bramble Bay from a D+ to D-,” Professor Greenfield said.
The millions of tonnes of sediment that entered Moreton Bay during the flood have now settled on the floor of the bay, causing the existing mud layer to almost double in size to more than 100 km2.
This mud may further impact the bay in summer when winds re-suspend the sediment, increasing turbidity and nutrients, and warmer weather stimulates algal blooms. A reduction in seagrass may result reducing an important food source for turtles and dugongs.
“The impact of major rainfall events on waterway health highlights the need to build the resilience of our catchments. We must prepare our catchments for rainfall events by managing erosion, stabilising creek channels, rehabilitating riparian (or riverbank) areas, investing in good agricultural practices and sustainably managing urban water,” Professor Greenfield said.
Prof Paul Greenfield commented that considering the magnitude of the flood, the 2011 Report Card grades are more positive than expected, particularly in freshwater streams and estuaries.
“On a positive note, the 2011 Report Card shows some freshwater streams and estuaries improved in grade, reflecting the positive influence of high water flows. Maroochy and Pine are among 10 freshwater catchments that received the highest health score since monitoring began in 1999,” Professor Greenfield said.
- Read the 2011 Report Card key messages.
- Check out the Report Card grades on our interactive website.
- Download the Report Card document
- Download the Report Card Methods
- Download the 2011 Report Card iPhone App for FREE - search for '2011 Report Card' in the App Store.