Monitoring River Health Initiative Technical Report Number 5
T. Krasnicki, R. Pinto and M. Read - Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment
Environment Australia, 2002
ISBN 0 724 66960 4 ISSN 1447-1280
- Australia-Wide Assessment of River Health: Tasmanian Bioassessment Report (TAS Final Report) (PDF - 600 KB)
- Australia-Wide Assessment of River Health: Tasmanian Bioassessment Report (TAS Final Report) - Appendix 1 (PDF - 1,517 KB)
- Australia-Wide Assessment of River Health: Tasmanian Bioassessment Report (TAS Final Report) - Appendix 3 (PDF - 283 KB)
- Australia-Wide Assessment of River Health: Tasmanian Bioassessment Report (TAS Final Report) - Appendix 4 (PDF - 149 KB)
- Australia-Wide Assessment of River Health: Tasmanian Bioassessment Report (TAS Final Report) - Appendix 5 (PDF - 1,761 KB)
- Australia-Wide Assessment of River Health: Tasmanian Bioassessment Report (TAS Final Report) - Appendix 6 (PDF - 3,370 KB)
About the report
This report details the Tasmanian component of the Monitoring River Health Initiative (MRHI) (1993-1996), the First National Assessment of River Health (FNARH) (1997) and the Australia Wide Assessment of River Health (1998-2000) which are components of the Commonwealth and State collaborative National River Health Program (NRHP). This report covers the development of the models in detail, including site selection and sampling, sample processing, quality assurance and control, statistical analysis, model development, test site assessments, model evaluation and communication activities.
Approximately 100 reference sites and 20 test sites were sampled twice a year for the initial two years of the program. Sampling effort was initially focused in the west and north of the state. In 1998, the number of reference sites was expanded to incorporate regions not covered under the AusRivAS models, particularly the east, south-east, and central regions. This led to the development of six final (alpha) statewide models.
Following the development of the models, an assessment was undertaken of the ecological condition of 257 test sites identified as being of regional management concern. Evaluation of the models indicates that they are able to detect impacts due to acid mine drainage, intensive agriculture, urbanisation and river regulation but not plantation forestry. The greatest seasonal variation in the model outputs occurred at sites impacted by agricultural activities. These differences could reflect seasonal differences in the degree of disturbance and/or changes in hydrology. The impact types that gave the greatest consistency in terms of O/E values were hydro-regulation and acid mine drainage (impacted) and pine plantations (unimpacted).
There is also considerable variation between O/E values for riffle and edgewater habitats for given test sites. Model outputs for riffle habitats are generally lower, provide more consistent data and hence may give a better representation of the condition of the river than the edge habitat.
The report also details quality assurance/quality control procedures undertaken to establish an acceptable taxonomic standard of macroinvertebrate sorting and identification. Our results show that there has been a general reduction in live pick errors corresponding with an increase in operator experience. Internal QAQC procedures identified problems in recovery of rare and cryptic taxa but these were not at a level to compromise the resolution or sensitivity of the models. These errors were largely resolved by modifications to the live sorting protocol and the additional training of staff.
Finally, the report details promotion of the project and its achievements through communication activities, other projects carried out in the state using AusRivAS methodologies, the adoption of AusRivAS as a key monitoring tool, and potential future development and refinement of the AusRivAS models.
The major accomplishments of the program have been:
- Development and implementation of a standardised rapid bioassessment protocol (AusRivAS) utilising standardised sampling and sample processing methodologies.
- Development of training and internal QA/QC programs to ensure staff using AusRivAS have the necessary skills and knowledge to successfully conduct assessments of river health to an acceptable standard.
- Development of 6 predictive models based on sampling and assessment of 216 reference sites around Tasmania.
- Assessment of the ecological condition of 257 test sites identified as being of regional management concern. Sampling effort was also focused on sites and catchments that are the subject of NHT funded activity to evaluate the effectiveness of management actions aimed at improving river health through improvement in water quality or habitat remediation.
- Evaluation of the AusRivAS models with respect to their sensitivity in detecting impacts due to different management practices.
- Demonstration of the usefulness of the protocols and the AusRivAS scheme for assisting management decision making. The AusRivAS scheme has been incorporated into impact assessment (eg pre- and post- release monitoring on the Mersey River), assessment of environmental benefit of environmental flow allocation and State of River reporting. These reports are being adopted as a key plank in the development of water management and catchment management plans in Tasmania.
- The promotion of AusRivAS as a key monitoring tool to assess the biological health of Tasmanian waterways at a state and community level.
- Promotion of the project and its achievements through communication activities. These have included presentations in television, radio, newspaper, newsletters, published papers and technical reports, seminars, conferences and workshops.
- Recognition by key stakeholders of the importance of monitoring river health and a commitment by State Government to incorporate AusRivAS protocol into statewide monitoring strategies and promote aquatic ecology as a core business.