Queensland River Assessment
Queensland covers an area of 1,727,200 km2, has a coastline of 7,400 km, and comprises 22.48 percent of the total area of Australia. It is Australia's second largest state. The climate of the state ranges from monsoonal downpours in the north, to tropical in the south-east, to hot and dry in the west and south-west. The Great Barrier Reef lies off the eastern coast of Queensland and is over 1,200 km in length, stretching from the West Papuan coast to east of Gladstone. The State has 330 national parks covering more than 27,000 km2.
The biological assessment of Queensland rivers showed that 80% of the river length assessed was in reference condition; most of the rest in significantly impaired condition, signifying that 20-50 percent of the animal types have been lost. The environmental assessment found that 87% of the assessed river length was in modified condition; 71% moderately modified and 17% substantially modified. Disturbance to the catchment from land use, changes to the hydrological regime and poor water quality were identified as the main contributing factors.
Over 90 percent of the river length assessed had some degree of catchment disturbance, with the vast majority of rivers classified as in fair condition. The effects were attributable mainly to land use effects. 10% of the river length able to be assessed for hydrological disturbance showed change. Over 7% of the river length assessed was substantially modified, principally affected by changes to the mean annual flow, duration of flow, and the seasonal amplitude of flows. Unfortunately only 26% of the total river length in Queensland was able to be assessed due to the lack of suitable data.
More than 30% of the river length assessed was affected by changes to the physical habitat, largely due to loss of riparian vegetation and changes to the bedload condition. Only 5% of the river length assessed had water quality that was largely unmodified. Suspended solids loads were elevated in 82% of river length assessed, total phosphorus in 95% and total nitrogen in 64%.
Ideally, scores for the two main indices would be similar for each basin. In general, the Biota Index does not demonstrate the same degree of degradation as the Environment Index. Reasons for this may include:
- macroinvertebrates may be insensitive to some environmental changes, including large-scale changes (e.g. changes in connectivity and catchment disturbance), and to changes in some riverine habitat components (e.g. changes in salinity). Other biota, such as streamside and aquatic plants, algae, fish or water birds, in addition to invertebrates would give a more comprehensive assessment of the cumulative effects of environmental change.
- there may be lags between environmental degradation and biotic condition (e.g. nutrient or sediment loads to streams); or
- an environmental component that would explain a biotic response was not measured (e.g. a toxicant).
Environment Index scores compared to Biota Index scores for all basins.
- A key point of contact for river management in Queensland is the Department of Natural Resources and Mines. Information on stream flow, ambient water quality, water resource planning (including environmental flows), water quality action plans, river management fact sheets, blue-green algae, and water use efficiency initiatives can be found at www.dnr.qld.gov.au/resourcenet/water/
- In addition, information on the Environmental Protection Agency's water quality monitoring program can be found at www.env.qld.gov.au/cgi-bin/w3-msql/environment/science/water/msqlwelcome.html?page=main.html
- Exit to more information on the AUSRIVAS for an introduction, models, taxonomy and downloads.
- Assessment of River Condition: and audit of the ecological condition of Australian rivers (by R. Norris, I. Prosser, B. Young, P. Liston, N. Bauer, N. Davies, F. Dyer, S. Linke, and M. Thoms)(PDF 4418 KB)
- View the Audit's Australian Catchment, River and Estuary Assessment 2002
- View the Audit's Australian Agriculture Assessment 2001
- Link to Data Library to download data and metadata
- Link to the Map Maker to make a map using this information.
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