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Northern Water Quality Report Released

The Minister for the Environment, Parks, Heritage and Arts, Michelle O’Byrne, today released a report showing the majority of Northern Tasmanian water resources were in excellent condition.

Ms O’Byrne said the State of the Region Water Quality and Stream Condition in Northern Tasmania Report covered the 2006-07 period, giving the highest possible rating to 32 of 51 sites assessed through the Northern Water Monitoring Program.

"This report’s findings are extremely encouraging and shows that our catchments are generally in very good health, despite the impact of drought pressure in recent times.

"The report shows that overall the region has healthy waterways that support a wealth of biodiversity, productivity and recreational activity, and also highlights where improvement efforts should be directed.

"Thirty-two sites gained the highest ranking possible of an A-rating, a further 15 sites gained a B-rating, and three were classed as having a C-rating."

Ms O’Byrne said a B-rating indicated the waterway at the test site was impaired, but did not necessarily mean the water quality was affected.

"The testing samples macroinvertebrate numbers, and where waterways are impacted by drought and low water levels, suitable habitat for macroinverterbrates is diminished."

Ms O’Byrne said only one site, at the Kings Meadows Rivulet, was given a D-rating.

"This site is a heavily-impacted urban waterway, and the rating reflects that it is not an ideal environment for macroinverterbrates.

"It serves as a reminder about what can happen in our waterways if proper management is not implemented with the assistance of data from reports such as this."

Ms O’Byrne said the report also showed stream conditions had remained relatively constant compared to analysis done in 2005, with 35 sites remaining the same.

"In an encouraging sign for catchment management into the future, the report found there were four locations where stream conditions had improved from their condition in 2005."

Ms O’Byrne said drought conditions had affected some locations, with most of the 12 sites that had suffered a decline in condition being impacted by low rainfall.

"The data contained in this report is essential for helping guide improvement efforts in the region, and will be used by NRM North and other stakeholders to target projects.

"This report builds on four years of hard work and effort by the Northern Waterway Assessment Team, and a large number of Water Watch volunteers, and its data is a credit to their dedication."

Ms O’Byrne said the report, which is separate to the State of the Tamar Report due to be released in the coming weeks, comes ahead of a review of the State Policy on Water Quality Management due later this year.

"The policy is important because it establishes the formal framework for translating the data gathered from monitoring programs such as this one into management decisions.

"The review will make recommendations on the policy to help deliver the best quality water management in Tasmania," Ms O’Byrne said.