River Health in the New South Wales Lower North Coast, Hunter and Central Coast Catchments

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A report of AusRivAS assessments 1994 - 1999
Grant Hose and Eren Turak
Environment Protection Agency, 2004
ISBN 0 642 55099 9 ISSN 1447-1280

1. Introduction

In recent years the focus of river health monitoring programs has shifted from the traditional physical and chemical assessment of water quality towards more holistic assessment of ecosystem condition and health. The use of macroinvertebrate assessments in the suite of the ecosystem health assessment tools enhances our ability to understanding of ecosystem condition and strengthens our assessment methods.

AusRivAS (Australian River Assessment) system was developed as part of the federally funded National River Health Program (NRHP) to implement a consistent nationwide approach in the use of macroinvertebrates for assessing river health. A core component of this work was the development of predictive models to describe macroinvertebrate community structure. The data contained in these models was derived from field sampling of a large number of reference sites across Australia.

The main component of the NRHP was the development of these predictive models, with limited effort focussed on the reporting of the results from particular rivers and/or catchments. Notable exceptions to this include Barmuta et al. 2002 and Gray 2004. With the finalisation of the AusRivAS computer models, attention is now being directed at the best ways of reporting the results. The results most accessible to the public so far consist of a brief overview of the preliminary AusRivAS sites assessments which was produced to assist local governments with State of the Environment Reporting. (http://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/soe/direct.pl).

This report is the first attempt to produce a regional summary of the AusRivAS assessments in NSW. The report details results for sampling undertaken as part of the National River Health Program (NRHP) at sites sampled in the Central Coast, Hunter and Lower North Coast Catchments of NSW. The biological assessment data contained in this report complements previous work on water quality, hydrology and catchment attributes reported by other agencies (DLWC 1999a, 1999b, 2000b).

This report contains the assessment results for a number of sites sampled in the Central Coast, Hunter and Lower North Coasts catchment over the period 1994-1999. The body of the report comprises a number of individual site report cards which detail the following.

  • site location map and site picture,
  • listing of predicted taxa for each site,
  • details of actual collected taxa found at each site, and
  • water quality data collected at time of sampling.

The report card format was developed to allow a ready comparison among sites and to provide a synthesis of the collected data.