Tony Zann

LETTERS: CEO responds to waterway catchment report critics

CONCERNS raised by Lockyer MP Ian Rickuss (QT Oct 24) on confusion about the 2015 Report Card results in some of the western catchments can be easily addressed.

The new Benefits of Waterways Rating is a whole of catchment assessment that measures a range of both social and economic benefits. Our social assessments show that while the community in Stanley value their waterways highly, they rate their ability to use the waterways as moderate.

Our economic assessment shows that there is minimal economic benefit currently generated through local recreation in the Stanley catchment.

Our assessment also considers the contribution that relevant catchments make to providing clean drinking water. The results for Stanley show that the catchment requires moderate levels of chemicals to treat the drinking water. The results of these social and economic benefit assessments reach an overall rating of 2.5 stars, which represents "moderate" waterway benefits.

As a result of extensive clearing in the Upper Brisbane Catchment, the extent of riparian vegetation is rated as poor, which impacted the overall environmental condition grade for this catchment this year.

Riparian vegetation is critical to stabilise channel banks to reduce the loss of prime agricultural land and retain soil on properties. It also slows water down to enable ground water recharge, which is an important source of water for irrigation.

The current condition of mid Brisbane is graded a D due to a number of factors including poor stream health, however the level of pollutant loads, which is a new indicator this year looking at sediments and nutrients, were found to be low and therefore lifted the grade from an F.

The fact that the mid Brisbane is in poor condition and is the main drinking water conduit, has been recognised by the Council of Mayors (SEQ) who has prioritised mid Brisbane as the first catchments for action as the part of the Resilient Rivers Initiative.

The methodology for the Healthy Waterways Report Card has been developed and endorsed by an independent committee of social, economic and environmental scientists and experts, and represents best management practice for monitoring.

The 2015 Environmental Grades are not directly comparable to previous years due to the evolved methodology used.

JULIE MCLELLAN, Healthy Waterways chief executive officer


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