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Fitzroy Partnership for River Health News!

February 2018 edition...

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Welcome to the first 2018 edition of River Rave. From all the team at Fitzroy Partnership for River Health, we wish you a safe, prosperous and healthy 2018 and hope that you had a joyful festive season. This first edition offers us a perfect opportunity to reflect on the past year, and look to what lies ahead.

2017 highlights  Coming up in 2018...
  • FPRH 2016-17 report card launch mid-year.
  • Second workshop for the National Waterway Report Card Network in March, in Adelaide.
  • Care for Creeks Bursary – applications to open in August.
  • Third HeART of the Basin Scholarship up for grabs later in 2018. Open to CQUniversity postgrad students studying river health.
  • Enviroscore online project supporting the University of New England.
  • Revision of program design used for report card development.
  • A new co-chair on our Management Committee (thankyou to John Merritt who has served us well).

Welcome to new Partners

The Partnership extends a warm welcome and thankyou to our new Partners, Stanmore Coal and Middlemount South, who joined us in 2017 and have operations based in the Upper and Lower Isaac River catchments. We look forward to working with our Partners in 2018 to build a more complete picture on river health in the Fitzroy Basin.

Mindi makes a splash at Rockhampton Christmas Markets!

Our mascot Mindi the Barramundi warmed hearts at the Rockhampton CBD Christmas Fair last year and even managed to sneak in a photo at the Christmas Tree while on shift. Together with FBA staff and her helpers, Mindi welcomed visitors through the FBA FLOW Visitor Centre after taking a walk along East St to let people know FLOW was open and filled with lots of fun activities.

On the night, Mindi and FBA staff chatted to more than 130 people about catchment and waterway health and handed out more than 80 report cards. Mindi glowed in the lime light, receiving lots of hugs and attention while posing for photographs and raising awareness of the Partnership’s 2015 -16 report card. By all reports, learning about catchments and waterways with FLOW's new Virtual Reality headsets, augmented-reality sandbox and Emriver stream model got the thumbs up from everyone who joined us on the night.

Port Curtis Harbour Watch - new community monitoring portal

​Port Curtis Harbour Watch is a citizen science based waterway program for schools and community based groups to  participate in marine and freshwater waterway science and monitoring in the catchments and environs surrounding Gladstone Harbour. Thanks to the support of the Fitzroy Basin Association through Australian Government funding, Harbour Watch recently launched a community monitoring portal whcih is delivered through EnviroScore, an initiative of the Fitzroy Partnership for River Health. 

The new monitoring portal allows for on-site entering of water quality data by local citizen scientists via a smart phone or tablet with internet access. Data is then immediately converted to a grade (A to E) for waterway health indicators including dissolved oxygen, pH, turbidity, temperature and salinity. The portal allows Interested community groups, schools and individuals to investigate community entered results for waterways in the Gladstone region.

Exploring waterway health indicators - Turbidity

Now we've got your attention...

What is Turbidity?

Turbidity is a physical-chemical water quality parameter that can be used to help determine the health of our waterways. It is a measure of water clarity (cloudiness or murkiness) and is measured in NTU’s or Nephelometric Turbidity Units. The more soil, suspended sediments and dissolved particles there are in the water, the less clear the water is and the higher the NTU rating. 

                          

Why does Turbidity matter?
From an aquatic ecosystem perspective, Turbidity is important because high levels of suspended and dissolved sediments and particles in the water will reduce or stop light reaching submerged water plants thereby preventing or reducing photosynthesis which is required for plants to grow. In turn this impacts animals in the water that rely upon plants to provide oxygen, food and habitat. High turbidity in water can also impact some fish and crustaceans by causing damage to their gills.

                         
                             Mackenzie River at Fitzroy Development Road.

What causes Turbidity?
Turbidity is influenced by surrounding ground cover, land use, soil erosivity, rainfall intensity and slope.  In the Fitzroy Basin high turbidity values are common place in the wet season post rain events, with rivers and creeks in the basin having NTU values ranging from 200 to 4000+. The water quality guideline for Turbidity in all sub-catchments of the basin is 50 NTU and the Science Panel of FPRH have set the Worst Case Scenario for the ecosystem health report card at 350 NTU.

How is Turbidity measured?
One of the simplest and cheapest ways to measure clarity, which is a closely correlated indirect measurement of Turbidity, is with a Turbidity Tube or Secchi Disk. Another way to measure Turbidity is with a a specialist scientific probe and meter.  For community groups, schools and individuals, we recommend the Turbidity Tube which estimates turbidity in NTU’s.

For data used in our annual ecosystem health report, turbidity is measured with more sophisticated turbidity sensors either via grab samples or deployed permanently at a gauging station. Generally this equipment contains multiple sensors that also measure other parameters such as pH, flow and salinity at frequent intervals. 

For more on Turbidity
The overall grades (A to E) for turbidity in sub-catchments of the Fitzroy Basin across all report card years can be viewed and compared using our interactive compare tool

For more on how beer is related to turbidity
We recommend visiting this Wikipedia page. You may be surprised to learn that beer's turbidity (or haze) is measured in EBCs!

MyWater Community Portal Snapshot - Emerald Botanic Gardens

The MyWater Community Monitoring Portal Snapshot is a new addition to the FPRH River Rave newsletter and will henceforth be a regular feature sharing results from our citizen science monitoring portal. The snapshot looks at sites, results and indicators being monitored by community and school volunteers and will include a Top Tester Tip to hone your waterway monitoring skills.

This edition, we take a closer look at the Emerald Botanic Gardens which is being monitored by Emerald State High School (great work guys - we hope you keep it up!). 

EMERALD BOTANIC GARDENS - Emerald State High School

Sampling period: All years 
No. of samples:   2 
Years sampled:   2014-15 (once in May) and 2015-16 (once in May)  
 
  Indicator Grades
All years 2014-15 2015-16
Overall (all indicators) Site grade B C B
Phys-chem indicators pH B B B
Salt A A -
Turbidity A - A
Ecology indicators Water bugs C C B
Fish C C -
Riparian vegetation B B -
Weed cover B C B

Note: a dash (‘-‘) in the table above = no data (not recorded or monitored this sample)

TOP VIEWER TIP:
You can view the data for this site in detail by visiting MyWater Community Portal and selecting 'Emerald SHS' from the dropdown list under the 'View data from' box below the grades, then selecting 'Emerald Botanic Gardens' from the 'Sites overview' box.

TOP TESTER TIP:
When using pH test strips, be sure not to touch the litmus paper (the coloured paper squares) because sweat, oils and hand products on your skin can contaminate the paper and give an incorrect result. 

Got a River Rave?  Share it with community!

We welcome news articles from FPRH partners and the Fitzroy community. This newsletter is sent to a database of over 500 and is continually growing.

If you have a good news story, interest piece or lead we would love to hear from you - please contact us by phone or email shown below. 
If you would like more information about joining the partnership please contact:

Nathan Johnston - Executive Officer
P: 07 4999 2821 | M: 0400 221 055 | E: nathan.johnston@riverhealth.org.au
 
If you have a more general comment or request, please contact:
 
Kash Walker - Web Developer
P: 07 4999 2819 | E: kash.walker@riverhealth.org.au

Address:
Fitzroy Partnership for River Health
Level 1, 80 East Street
PO Box 139 Rockhampton, QLD 4700
 
FBA is the current host organisation of the Fitzroy Partnership for River Health.

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