Newsletter 2 -  March/April 2016
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Update from the Chair:

Welcome to the Partnership’s first newsletter for 2016.  
Let me also welcome our new project support officer, Emma Carlos who started in mid-January. Emma has a background in environmental sciences and will play the crucial role of assisting our executive officer, Charlie Morgan to deliver a wide-ranging technical, networking and communications work program in 2016. With the launch of the Mackay-Whitsunday pilot report card in October last year, we are now working with the Partnership’s Technical Working Group to confirm indicators, identify gaps and start the data collection work to ensure that our first Report Card due later this year is more comprehensive.   It would be great to hear from partners as to how you found the pilot report card.  Is it useful? How can it be improved? Have you shown it to anyone else and what have been their reactions? We would love to hear from other potential partners who would like to be involved. We believe the benefits of joining the Partnership are many … being associated with the regional report card, contributing to discussions on how to improve the Mackay-Whitsunday waterways, meeting and working with other waterway savvy organisations, staying up-to-date on the many waterway, industry and Great Barrier Reef-related programs underway in the Queensland and Australian governments. We are planning to produce this e-newsletter bi-monthly, so please keep it in mind to promote your waterway-related initiatives and events.

Di Tarte
Chair, Mackay-Whitsunday Healthy Rivers to Reef Partnership


Our website

Our website will be undergoing some change as we update to continue to provide the latest information on the work of the Partnership. We are working to create a more interactive experience which will provide users with access to more in-depth technical results. It is expected to be completed by June.
To find out more about the Partnership, who the Partners are, how you can be involved and the report card, please visit: 


Partner profile - Whitsunday Regional Council

Whitsunday Regional Council (WRC) Director of Planning & Community Dan Staley is responsible for a range of local issues from town planning to library management, however it's his role in environmental management which has him actively involved in the Mackay-Whitsunday Healthy Rivers to Reef Partnership. 
Some of the challenges the council faces include urban stormwater runoff and discharge points from sewage treatment plants, which are constantly being reviewed to improve water quality and the health of the reef more broadly. Working with the Partnership has enabled WRC to access the latest monitoring information through the report card, working with Reef Catchments and NQ Dry Tropics, their local Natural Resource Management (NRM) groups. 
Water quality has been one of the most divisive community issues for the tourism driven region, in recent years.
"More comprehensive modelling informed by monitoring in the local area, would benefit a broad range of stakeholders. We do a little bit of monitoring ourselves, but council relies on NRM groups to secure monitoring funding from state and federal government." Dan said. Just by collaborating council has identified access to better funding. "By working together we're starting to target some good investments in the water quality area." 
Dan Staley takes in the view of what's at stake in the Whitsundays

Partners meet in picturesque Airlie

The stunning Whitsundays truly turned it on for partners on March 23rd.
Partners met to discuss everything from communications and engagement to strategic direction.
The technically weighted agenda included 
Executive Officer Charlie Morgan's update on the processes for data gathering and interpretation. (To help partners absorb the information, presentations will be circulated to you.)
Whitsunday Partners were invited to 'showcase' their industry and region. Al Grundy (Tourism Whitsundays) highlighted the importance of the report card in establishing scientific data which is relevant to the industry as visitor numbers increase and Dan Staley (WRC) outlined council's strategic direction related to Whitsunday waterways, including current and future investments around planning. The value of the information shared was recognised immediately and the Partners requested it become a permanent agenda item. This reinforces the significance of collaboration to the Partnership.
For those who had expressed a desire to sail into the sunset, the day ended in relaxed Whitsunday style.
The next meetings will be in May for the Panel, followed by a re-convening of the Partnership in June. 

Improving our water for future generations

Reef Catchments in partnership with the Australian Government has launched an updated Water Quality Improvement Plan (WQIP) 2014 – 2021 for the Mackay Whitsunday Isaac (MWI) region. Implementation of this plan will improve the water quality and ecological health of the waterways, estuaries, wetlands, and the Great Barrier Reef within the Mackay Whitsunday region. The plan has been developed to play an important part in guiding the MWI region towards addressing requirements established under the Australian Government’s Reef Water Quality Protection Plan (Reef Plan) and requirements for the Healthy Waters Management Plans (HWMPs) specified in section 24 of the Environmental Protection (Water) Policy 2009 (EPP (Water). The Water Quality Improvement Plan (e-book) was also launched on the 28th of January 2016.
Getting technical


The production of an annual report card is one of the primary objectives of the Mackay-Whitsunday Healthy Rivers to Reef Partnership and preparation of the next report card is now well underway. The major priorities for this report card will be to review the indicators used in the 2014 Pilot Report Card and to fill as many of the data gaps as possible. A summary of the methods used to produce the 2014 pilot report card can seen in the Program Design



Activities spotlight

Partners recognise that more can be achieved together than alone and acknowledge the value of collaboration in realising outcomes beyond those that could be attained by any single agency or organisation. In conjunction with the release of the 2014 pilot report card the Partnership also highlighted some excellent examples of work being undertaken in the Mackay-Whitsunday region by the Partners in The Activities Spotlight. The Spotlight showcases current activities being undertaken by Partners directed at improving waterway health and amenity. This includes activities across a number of themes such as gross pollutant traps, catchment rehabilitation, marine debris removal and innovation in sugar cane farming.
This spotlight contains examples of work being undertaken in the
Mackay-Whitsunday region and is not exhaustive. For more details on
our partners and their activities, visit

Saving money, protecting environment

A newly released draft NRM plan has identified strategies that could ease the long-term economic burden on graziers, sugarcane farmers and horticulturalists in the Burdekin Dry Tropics – while protecting the region’s world-famous wetlands, beaches and the Great Barrier Reef. Some of the methods outlined in the draft Burdekin Dry Tropics Natural Resource Management (NRM) Plan include implementing practices that reduce the need for agricultural inputs, improving irrigation management and tackling pest weeds and animals. Developing the Plan involved extensive public consultation, including a workshop in Bowen that highlighted the local community’s concerns and priorities for the Bowen catchments and offshore region.

Some of the themes raised include the desire for:
•    industry to grow and diversify,
•    an increase in surface water supply to expand irrigated agriculture – although this would require a thorough assessment of potential impacts to soils and groundwater; and
•    water quality improvements to maintain the health of the Reef.  

The workshop highlighted that a lot of good work is already occurring locally to sustainably manage land and water.  The region is Australia’s largest winter vegetable growing district, thanks to innovative farming techniques that maximise limited available water resources.

See the draft plan here

Growers sweet success

The Australian sugar cane industry’s world-class, industry-developed and managed Best Management Practice (BMP) initiative – Smartcane BMP - is gaining momentum. The number of growers registering, self-assessing and gaining Smartcane BMP accreditation across the state is increasing significantly, including in the Mackay and Plane Creek cane growing districts where more than 380 have signed up.
Read CANEGROWERS Mackay article here.

Get involved

We are constantly seeking support from new members to continue the great work that the Partners have undertaken so far. Do you know someone who, like you, is keen to be part of the solution for a brighter future? Partners are organisations or groups that have an interest in maintaining, and where necessary improving the health of the waterways in the Mackay-Whitsunday region. They can be from the community, Traditional Owners, farmers and fishers, industry, science, tourism and government. For further information on becoming a member or to request a copy of the Value Proposition statement, please forward your details to
For more information about the Partnership, its work and the benefits of becoming a member please visit our website


Please help us spread the word about the Partnership and all the great work we are achieving by forwarding this newsletter on to your colleagues and networks. The more people involved the better! 
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Healthy Rivers to Reef · Level 10, 400 George Street · Brisbane, Qld 4000 · Australia

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