2017 - 2018 Reef Water Quality Report Card released

The Hon Leanne Enoch MP

Queensland Minister for the Great Barrier Reef

Joint Media Release

30 August 2019

Federal Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley and Queensland’s Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef Leanne Enoch today released the Reef Water Quality Report Card 2017 and 2018.

The report card outlines the progress of the Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan. This plan seeks to improve the quality of water flowing from the land to the Great Barrier Reef.

The Australian and Queensland Governments are committed to protecting the largest living structure on the planet, together investing more than $600 million to boost actions in the plan.

“This report card shows encouraging improvements in some areas, including some positive results in the Burdekin region where there’s been intensive land-use for many years,” Ms Ley said.

“The Burdekin region recorded the largest improvement in best practice nutrient management for sugarcane with reductions mostly delivered through combined Queensland Government Burdekin projects and the Australian Government Reef Trust projects.

“While improvements have been made, given the size of the area more work is needed across all catchments.

“Sediment continues to be an area for improvement for the Burdekin and dissolved inorganic nitrogen another for the Wet Tropics — that’s why we are investing significant funding to address these issues.”

Ms Enoch said this report specifically examines water quality in-depth, and that while it was encouraging to see projects working with Queensland farmers and industry were having a positive impact, the overall results demonstrate more urgent work is needed to improve water quality.

“Unfortunately, the proportion of grazing land across the catchments with adequate ground cover required to reduce erosion was below the target, primarily due to many areas being drought declared,” she said.

“Across all Great Barrier Reef catchments, water quality modelling showed a very poor reduction in dissolved inorganic nitrogen (0.3%) and sediment (0.5%). There was also a poor reduction in particulate nitrogen (0.5%).

“Peer reviewed science shows improving the quality of water flowing to the Reef is critical to improving its health, and assisting it to recover from the impacts of climate change.

“That’s why the Queensland Government is introducing new regulations to improve the quality of water flowing to the Reef,” Ms Enoch said.

Australia is committed to the Paris Agreement and is meeting its emissions reduction targets, with the Australian Government recently announcing a $3.5 billion Climate Solutions Package to support this work.

The Queensland Government is also playing its part – protecting the Reef is a key Advancing Queensland priority, with clear targets set to reduce carbon emissions and improve Reef water quality.

The interactive Report Card 2017 and 2018 includes finer scale reporting along with more information about the Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan outcomes and is available at www.reefplan.qld.gov.au.

Minister for the Environment