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Fitzroy’s report card let down by Marine zone along coast

Prof Barry Hart (Head of the Independent Science Panel) at the release of the FBA's annual Health of the Fitzroy Basin Report. Photo: Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin
Prof Barry Hart (Head of the Independent Science Panel) at the release of the FBA's annual Health of the Fitzroy Basin Report. Photo: Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin Chris Ison

THE Fitzroy Basin's waterways have been given a C grade.

The 2011-12 report card was released yesterday by the Fitzroy Partnership for River Health.

It showed, following a detailed assessment, catchments across the region remained stable or improved over the assessment period.

It was a similar result to the inaugural report the year before.

The Fitzroy, Lower Dawson and Lower Isaac, Nogoa, Upper Dawson Catchments scored a B grade while the Callide, Comet, Connors, Mackenzie, Theresa and Upper Isaac Catchments and the Estuary Zone scored a C.

Fitzroy Partnership for River Health Executive Officer Nathan Johnston said there was an improvement in turbidity, metal and nutrient results and a decline in salt and sulfate scores.

"Factors that influenced the scores ... included less intense rainfall and flow than the previous year resulting in less catchment runoff as well as higher groundwater levels which led to prolonged river flow in the second half of 2011," he said.

"In 2011-12 the Marine zone was again found to be in poor condition.

"This is likely attributed to continuing impacts from the 2011 floods resulting in larger sediment and nutrient loads reaching the marine area, as well as physical disturbance from storms."

Fitzroy Basin's waterways have been given a C grade in the 2011-12 report card released yesterday.
Fitzroy Basin's waterways have been given a C grade in the 2011-12 report card released yesterday.

Mr Johnston said five to 10 years of data needed to be collected to differentiate between natural climatic variability and human influences, but the release of the second report card was a step in the right direction.

More than 945,000 samples at 230 sites were examined against four categories for the grades.

The categories were physical and chemical, nutrients, toxicants and ecology of the waterways.

The report was guided by an independent Science Panel, chaired by Professor Barry Hart.

Professor Hart said the C grade was not something for the region to worry about, but said it was "very risky" to make management decisions based on the report card without looking at trends in future data.

"This is about getting the information out so people understand how the catchments are shaping up and what's shaping a B or C grade," he said.

Find out more about the Fitzroy Basic report card and the system's overall health at riverhealth.org.au.

Topics:  capricorn coast fitzroy basin fitzroy river



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