Water quality planning in the NQ Dry Tropics

Since launching Natural Decisions in July 2013 we have worked extensively on water quality projects concerning the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland. Firstly with the Burnett-Mary Regional Group, coordinating their Water Quality Improvement Plan (WQIP), and then with Terrain NRM providing supporting work involving INFFER for the Wet Tropics WQIP.  Both of these projects have now concluded and we have moved on to assist NQ Dry Tropics http://www.nqdrytropics.com.au the leading natural resource management body for the Burdekin Dry Tropics region, with the development of the Burdekin WQIP. Again we are pleased to be working with the team from TropWater at James Cook University, lead by Jane Waterhouse.

The Burdekin Dry Tropics region is located in north eastern Queensland and covers an area of approximately 146,000 square kilometres (equivalent to about 8 per cent of the state). The region is primarily defined by the catchment area of the Burdekin River plus the associated coastal and marine areas. It is a diverse landscape, which includes semi-arid drylands, wooded grasslands, mountainous tropical rainforests, coastal plains, wetlands, ocean and islands – across three main bioregions; the Brigalow Belt, Einasleigh Uplands and Desert Uplands.

Natural Decisions has been engaged by NQ Dry Tropics to undertake an INFFER analysis looking at the cost-effectiveness of achieving targets required to protect the key values associated with the Great Barrier Reef.  Michelle Dickson and I have recently completed a series of workshops, with the key primary production activities in the region – grazing, sugar cane and horticulture, to gain an insight into economic and adoption characteristics across these industries. Valuing and incorporating local industry knowledge will be a key input to the INFFER analysis and catchment prioritisation elements of the WQIP.


The view north over extensive cane-growing country in the Burdekin basin.


A WQIP is designed to identify the main issues impacting waterways and the marine environment from land-based activities and to identify and prioritise management actions that will halt or reverse the trend of declining water quality within an NRM region.  This is done, using a wide range of resources and scientific findings, by identifying the following:

    • issues affecting water quality
    • waterway uses and values
    • management goals and objectives
    • ways to monitor and assess effective management

This project is supported by NQ Dry Tropics NRM, through funding from the Australian Government Reef Programme.


The Burdekin River delta, south of Ayr.


Posted 12 May 2015 in News