The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) Catchments Loads Monitoring Program, monitors the annual loads of pollutants (sediments, pesticides and nutrients) generated from terrestrial runoff in the GBR catchments. The monitoring is undertaken at 26 sites across 14 drainage basins. The data is then used to model annual loads across the 35 drainage basins which is used in the development of the annual Paddock to Reef report cards which measure and report on progress towards Reef Plan (2013) targets.
In the Mackay Whitsunday region there has been an increase in the number of sites being monitored in 2016/17. Previous monitoring has been undertaken on the O’Connell and Pioneer Rivers and on Sandy Creek. In 2016/17 this has been increased with three new sites including a new site on the Proserpine River, an additional site on the O’Connell River and a (to be established site) on Plane Creek.
Currently all six sites are monitored with ambient sampling being taken on a weekly basis. The ambient sampling is used to identify the range and concentrations of pollutants within the rivers and creeks on a day-to-day basis. Of these sites, five currently have automated samplers set up with the sixth site to be set up later this year. The automated samplers enable continuous sampling during high flow events providing samples along the hydrograph (rate of flow vs time of event) and are stored until collected.
From all of the collected samples the concentrations are determined, with the volume of water flowing in the river used to determine the load (either Tonnes or kg’s depending on pollutant) of each of the pollutants.
Each year the monitoring program releases a report detailing the results from each of the sites monitored.