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Fitzroy Partnership for River Health News!

December 2017 edition...

FPRH launches new Facebook page & announces GoPro5 winner!

Early September saw us launch the FPRH Facebook page - an easy way for everyone to keep in touch with the latest on river health and water quality in the Fitzroy Basin. So far we've seen Mindi play the Marimba in Moranbah, turtles and fish at the Tilapia Terminator and Wetland Care Day, sampling for macro-invertebrates in Grosvenor Creek and water quality testing at Fairbairn Dam in Emerald. If you post any newsworthy river or waterway stories be sure to tag us @FitzroyPartnership4RiverHealth!

A big shout out to everyone who's supported us by liking the page so far - and congratulations to Weylin Zonruiter who won the FPRH Facebook and newsletter campaign prize in time for Christmas. We look forward to sharing some waterway action captured on your new GoPro Hero5 with our Facebook followers soon! 

Mindi & Maisy travel to Theodore River Festival & Emerald

It's not often a 1.8m barramundi lands on the banks of the Dawson River, but FPRH's mascot Mindi the Barramundi recently landed at Theodore's River Festival. Her friend Maisy the Mayfly also made an appearance, and later on reappeared at Central Highland Regional Council's emergency services day in September. Mindi,  Maisy and the FPRH crew traveled the region to spread word of the 2015-16 Report Card results on waterway ecosystem health and chat with locals about agricultural use and drinking water results.

At Theodore, Mindi danced and hugged her way into new hearts, and kids took turns with our Maisy the Mayfly board game. In the meantime, the FPRH crew took opportunity to test water quality in the Fairbairn Dam and Dawson River and hand out copies of the latest Report Card. Check out our Facebook video with Kash Walker sharing water quality results at Fairbairn Dam which received an A grade for both turbidity and salinity.  The Dawson River water sample collected at the Theodore River Festival was not far behind, scoring a B grade for turbidity (with 70 NTU) and an A grade for salinity (270 microsiemens/cm). 

Maisy the Mayfly kept children entertained and informed on what water bugs like Maisy need to stay happy and healthy in our rivers and creeks with her 3x3m snakes and ladder like board game. Staff helped Maisy by handing out 'take home' paper copies of the game to eager children and parents. You can download and print your own copy here.

Wetlands and Tilapia Terminator Day a huge success

In October, over 80 enthusiastic locals joined us on the banks of the Yeppen Yeppen Lagoon to learn about wetland health, water quality monitoring, native fish and Tilapia at the Tilapia Terminator and Wetland Care Day. 

The event was hosted and organised by the Fitzroy Partnership for River Health with fantastic support from staff at Capricornia Catchments (CC), Fitzroy Basin Association (FBA), Rockhampton Regional Council (RRC), Central Queensland University (CQU), Keppel Bay Sportfishing Club and Reef Citizen Science Alliance for ReefBlitz. Activities on the day encouraged families to explore waterway health and human impacts on fish and other wetland wildlife.

Children eagerly participated in the Capricornia Catchments fish game, learning about our native fish and Tilapia while having fun. And everyone got to hear interesting stories from PhD candidate Evan Chua and Dr Nicole Flint of CQU about fish research being conducted across Fitzroy River catchments to develop a toolbox for fish health assessment.

FBA’s Shane Westley shared information on the dangers of Tilapia, explaining why it's a pest fish and what to do if you catch one (be sure to check out this great video and one-page fact sheet for more info).  Shane also chatted about the importance of fish hotels for our native fish stocks and took nature enthusiasts on a wetland walk and talk, pointing out the value of wetlands and helping budding ornithologists to identify native birds.

Waterway health and water quality monitoring were also a key feature of the day, with everyone trying their hand at testing pH, salinity and turbidity with test strips, meters and tubes. The macro-invertebrate session with FPRH staff proved very popular, with children and adults lining up to use microscopes and magnifying glasses to identify water bugs. For a full record of water quality results from the day, including phys-chem, fish, macro-invertebrates, weeds and native plants, visit our MyWater monitoring portal.

And last but not least, results of the Tilapia competition landed nothing but locals. Lured by the chance to win a new fishing rod and reel for the most Tilapia caught, local families eagerly lined up to cast a rod but caught no tilapia (just lots of catfish, banded grunter and spangled perch). Whilst known to occur in the Yeppen Yeppen Lagoon, the fact no tilapia were caught on the day may well indicate their numbers have dropped which is good news.

Thanks to all involved for making the day such a success! See more pictures of the day on our Facebook page.

Requests start for 2016-17 report card

It's the time of year when we turn our focus to requesting and collating water quality data from across the Fitzroy Basin to produce FPRH's next annual report card on waterway health. Partnership staff are currently busy requesting data from state and local government as well as industry so we can start work on data processing and report production which is a big job.

With some 437,510 sample results from more than 244 sites in last years' 2015-16 ecosystem health report card, there is little wonder it is such a massive task! All water quality data must be formatted, checked for errors and processed for upload into our online database before we can report. With some spreadsheets having thousands of rows to process in just one file, our team works on efficiency and data quality, with our web developer and programmers helping to make sure our data entry and quality assurance checks run smoothly.  

Once all the data is uploaded, we run code to display the results as simple grading scores (from A to E) across the catchments on our interactive website. Read more about the science and background of our grading system

Mindi and Grosvenor Creek water bugs get a warm welcome in Moranbah

We're not sure who stole the show more at the Freemasons Markets in Moranbah; our mascot Mindi the Barramundi or the live water bugs collected from Grosvenor Creek! Mindi certainly put in a fair effort to steal the show by playing the marimba for the first time. Both received a warm welcome from locals and travellers at the market, with many posing for a photo with Mindi or stopping at our stall to check out the water bugs.

Staff sampled the water, fish and macro-invertebrates from Apex Park on Grosvenor Creek just on the southern outskirts of the Moranbah township. Watch our video here.

Eleven types of macro-invertebrates were caught in total with sensitive bugs to very tolerant bugs identified to receive a C grade for water bugs. The macro-invertebrate species included dragonfly nymph, mayfly nymph, water strider, water scorpion, needle bug, freshwater snail and shrimp, water boatman and mosquito larvae.  Four species of fish were caught in the creek including the Eastern RainbowfishFiretail GudgeonAgassiz's Glassfish and Bony bream, giving a fish health A grade score. The physical and chemical parameters of the water varied from an A grade for salinity, to a D grade for turbidity. 

Overall the results for the Grosvenor Creek site were fair - providing a C grade for the site when using our educational citizen science equipment. 

Check out the results and grades here at our MyWater community monitoring portal.

National Waterway Report Card Network Workshop - Adelaide 2018

Waterway health report card producers and practioners from across Australia are set to meet up in Adelaide next year for their second annual Workshop from the 6-9th March. Hosted by the South Australian government's Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR), the workshop will be beneficial for all report card producers to share their skills, knowledge and challenges.

DEWNR staff are hoping to host two field trips for attendees with a walk in the Adelaide Botanic Gardens to view the filtration system of a constructed wetland, and a walk and talk session on water quality monitoring in the upper catchments at Morialta Conservation Park.

Potential workshop session themes for the two days were recently discussed and may include: 
  1. Report cards – creating impact 
  2. Future scenarios, modelling and links with regional WQIPs
  3. Environmental economic accounting and report cards
Last year's workshop themes and content can be found on the National Report Card website. Keep your eye on this website as the 2018 Workshop agenda will be available here in late January.

Why water quality?  Water bugs

Macro-invertebrates (water bugs) like stone-fly nymphs, water beetles, freshwater shrimp and caddis-fly larvae are an indicator of water health. Some species can tolerate poor water quality but others require excellent water quality and quickly disappear when water quality declines.

The presence and abundance of different species provides us with an indication of the quality of the water. That is why we catch, identify and count water bugs when monitoring water quality.

Find out more about macro-invertebrates here.

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 400 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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