Click on the tabs above to explore the water quality and land management targets for our region, the management priorities, and priority ecosystems

WQIP:2015 sets short-term targets for land management and water quality outcomes for the Fitzroy Region that match those set by the Queensland and Australian governments under the Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan.

Water quality targets have been set for nutrients, sediment and pesticides to achieve reductions at the end of the catchment, where rivers meet the sea. Nutrients and sediments are naturally found in our waterways but are now found at significantly increased levels due to the impacts of land and water use. Sediment and nutrient targets, therefore, set a reduction in the levels that are over and above ‘natural’ (that is, the ‘extra’ levels that come from human impacts). Pesticides are not naturally found in the environment. As such, pesticide targets will also be for either a ‘no further increase’ or a ‘reduction’ in current levels found in our waterways.

Land and catchment management targets have been set for agricultural land management, groundcover, riparian vegetation and wetlands. These targets are intermediate indicators that are linked to improved water quality. They apply across the catchment area and, like the water quality targets above, represent challenging but achievable targets.

The joint efforts of government, industry, land managers and communities since 2003 have helped to deliver land management and water quality improvement. In 2016 land and catchment target monitoring changed. Instead of using the tables below, modelling and monitoring are now reported annually by the Australian and Queensland Governments through their Reef Water Quality Report Cards. The Reef Water Quality Report Card reports on progress towards 2025 targets for identified reef catchments, as well as wetland condition and inshore marine health.

The Fitzroy Region’s targets match those set by the Queensland and Australian governments for the entire Great Barrier Reef. The exception is dissolved inorganic nitrogen and pesticide targets based on regionally specific considerations.
Dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) is nitrate and ammonia. Fertiliser is the largest source of elevated DIN and primarily comes from cropping and horticultural activities.
The Reef Plan target for DIN Reef wide is: at least a 50 per cent reduction in anthropogenic end-of-catchment dissolved inorganic nitrogen loads.
Sediment comes from erosion on hillslopes, gullies and stream banks. Elevated sediment mostly comes from grazing lands, particularly areas prone to erosion with low ground cover. Cropping/farming can also contribute to sediment movement off land into our waterways.
Particulate nutrients are attached to sediments and are therefore transported in the same manner as soils. By controlling the movement of sediment on the land we can manage the load of particulate nutrients being delivered to the Reef.
The main pesticides of concern in the Great Barrier Reef are photosystem II- inhibiting (PSII) herbicides including diuron, atrazine, ametryn, hexazinone and tebuthiuron. Herbicides are used in cropping and grazing lands.

The Reef Plan target for pesticides Reef-wide is at least a 60 per cent reduction in end-of-catchment pesticide loads.

Current concentrations of PSII herbicides in the Fitzroy Region’s marine environment the Fitzroy Region are not at a level likely to cause harm to the Reef environment. This is not to say that local freshwater environments are not being impacted on. As the use of zero tillage farming increases to protect the soil, farmers’ reliance on herbicides will naturally increase and best management practices in regards to application methodology and timing should continue to be encouraged to protect the Reef and local waterways

Best management practice systems provide standards of ‘good practice’ in managing soils, nutrients and pesticides. Best management practices are developed by each industry and adoption by farmers is voluntary. In the Fitzroy Basin the grazing, grains and cotton industries have established best management practice systems.
Ground cover is a measure of how much bare soil is covered by grass and leaf litter. Ground cover protects soil from erosion processes, and is particularly important at the end of the dry season, before the summer rains arrive.
Riparian vegetation contributes to water quality by protecting river banks from erosion and slowing run-off as it enters rivers. It also provides important habitat for vegetation, birds and animals.
Wetlands play an important role in water quality as well as providing habitat for fish, turtles, birds and animals. During floods, for example, wetlands slow water down and allow sediment to settle out. Protecting and restoring natural wetlands can improve water quality.