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Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment

National River Health Check-up

11 February 1997

Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill has launched Australia's first national assessment of river health AUSRIVAS (Australian Rivers Assessment Scheme).

2000 river sites across Australia will be monitored using AUSRIVAS, the first such assessment on a continental scale.

Senator Hill says programs such as AUSRIVAS will help set priorities for the clean up of our rivers under the Natural Heritage Trust.

"Given the critical importance of rivers to the nation's social, environmental and economic well being, it is essential that we can rapidly and objectively evaluate river health.

"The need for a national system for assessing the health of Australia's rivers was emphasised in the recent State of the Environment report.

"AUSRIVAS includes a computer model based on the monitoring of macroinvertebrates that will assess the ecological health of rivers.

"The AUSRIVAS program will help assess the pollution in our rivers, assist in improving water quality management, and provide much needed input into other environmental monitoring such as State of Environment Reporting and the National Land and Water Audit."

The national implementation of AUSRIVAS has been made possible by the strong cooperation and support of all States and Territories.

The government is also funding complementary research into techniques for managing water flows in rivers.

The Howard Government is also committed to improving the health of Australia's waterways through the National Rivercare Initiative and Murray Darling 2001 Project under the Natural Heritage Trust.

For further information contact:

Minister's office Matt Brown (06) 277 7640

Environment Australia John Durham (06) 274 1651

Commonwealth of Australia