Waterways Good Despite Record Breaking Weather

The results from the 2020 Wet Tropics Report Card have assessed the majority of freshwater rivers and estuaries continue to be in ‘good’ or ‘very good’ condition for the period July 2018-June 2019.

However, record-breaking dry periods followed by extreme flood events did place some pressure on our waterways.

This is the first year since the Wet Tropics Report Card was launched in 2016 that it has been able to see the impact of a typical wet season and the associated higher runoff of sediments and pollutants that come with higher rainfall.

High concentrations of suspended nitrogen and phosphorus were recorded near river mouths during and after flood events and scores for inshore water quality were the lowest in five years.

Chair of Wet Tropics Watrerways, Professor Steve Turton, said it is important to focus on long-term trends.

"We are building a story about waterway health in our region, so we really need at least 10 years of data for the full story to emerge. So far, our overall grades are reasonably good - if they suddenly drop, we know we have a problem that needs managing.”

Different Report Cards

The Wet Tropics Report Card assesses waterway health, not just water quality, so the grades also take account of 'habitat & hydrology' and the condition of fish populations.

The following table highlights some of the key differences between the Wet Tropics Report Card and the GBR Report Card:

 GBR Report CardWet Tropics Report Card
Zones assessedInshore marine Basins, estuaries, inshore and offshore
Data sourcesPaddock to Reef (P2R)P2R, AIMS, DNRME, JCU, Councils & other partners
RegionsAll GBR regionsWet Tropics only
Data typeMonitored & modelledMonitored

More information

For more information about the Wet Tropics Report Card, watch this video recording of a meeting with the regional extension network, which covers some of the frequently asked questions inc: 

  • 17.45: Why hasn't BMP improved the grades?
  • 26.32: Are we expected to achieve an 'A'?
  • 31.18: Can we trust the science?
  • 34.35: How does this all fit with the Reef Regs?


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