Countdown to release of Mackay-Whitsunday waterway health report card

Jun 29, 2015 | ,
Members of the Mackay-Whitsunday Healthy Rivers to Reef Partnership tour Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal facilities at the Port of Hay Point.
Members of the Mackay-Whitsunday Healthy Rivers to Reef Partnership tour Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal facilities at the Port of Hay Point.

The Mackay-Whitsunday Healthy Rivers to Reef Partnership was launched in October 2014 as a collaboration of 28 partners from across the community, including Traditional Owners, farmers and fishers, industry, science, tourism and government. 

The Partnership is founded on a shared vision for the region’s rivers and reefs – to ensure they are healthy and contribute to a prosperous and iconic region where people visit, live, work and play.

One of the Partnership’s objectives is to produce an annual report card on the health of the region’s waterways, including the catchments and estuaries of the Don, Proserpine, Pioneer, O’Connell and Plane basins, and the inshore and offshore marine and reef areas. The Partnership will release its pilot report card in late 2015.

To develop the report card, the Partnership is using the best available independent science, including results from a range of regional monitoring programs. The report card will help community, industry, science, tourism and government  work together to determine how and where we can do more to look after our waterways. Since the launch of the Partnership, the project team has undertaken a lot of work to develop the report card.

In February 2015, Partners and members of the Technical Working Group came together for a workshop run by the University of Maryland to develop a mock-up of the report card. The group discussed the layout and key elements to be included.

Heath Kelsey, Program Director (Integration and Application Network) at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, ran the workshop, drawing on his extensive experience to guide the Partners through the process. Participants agreed that the workshop helped them better understand the process of developing a report card.

Kim Delaney, the Reef Catchments Technical Officer, along with the Technical Working Group, has been working hard to pull together the program design for the pilot report card. This has included developing objectives, and comparing existing report card indicators and scoring methods to provide the most relevant indicators for the Mackay-Whitsunday region.

The Reef Water Quality Protection Plan Independent Science Panel (ISP) reviews all scientific products produced by the Partnership. At its most recent meeting on 17 and 18 June, the ISP reviewed and endorsed the program design for the pilot report card.