Australia-Wide Assessment of River Health: New South Wales Bioassessment Report (NSW Final Report)
E. Turak, G. Hose and N. Waddell
NSW Environment Protection Authority
Monitoring River Health Initiative Technical Report Number 2a
Environment Australia, May 2002
ISBN 0 642 54836 6
- Part 1 - NSW Bioassessment Report (PDF - 1240 KB)
- Part 2 - NSW Bioassessment Report (PDF - 923 KB)
- Part 3 - NSW Bioassessment Report (PDF - 229 KB)
About the report
The use of aquatic macroinvertebrates in assessing stream condition in New South Wales is not a new concept. However, it was not until the commencement of the National River Health Program (NRHP) that riverine macroinvertebrates began to play a major role in the assessment and management of rivers in NSW.
The NRHP commenced in 1994 as a result of the growing need to develop ecological indicators of river health. For the first two years (1994-1996) the program was largely funded by the Commonwealth EPA (CEPA) and the Land and Water Resources Research and Development Corporation (LWRRDC). One of the programs within NRHP was the Monitoring River Health Initiative (MRHI). The aim of the MRHI was to build predictive models for assessing river health using macroinvertebrate data collected from a large number of relatively undisturbed reference sites and a small number of disturbed test sites. The program was designed as eight sub-programs covering each of the Australian States and Territories. In each state and territory a lead agency was appointed for the program. In NSW the Environment Protection Authority was given the lead agency role. The EPA collaborated with the Department of Land and Water Conservation (DLWC) in executing this role. NSW State Forests, NSW Fisheries and National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) were also involved in the program.
Following two years of field sampling, preliminary predictive models for NSW were developed in 1996. These models were incorporated into the Australian River Assessment Scheme (AusRivAS) software package, which was made available via the Internet. From 1997 to 2000, the program continued as the Australia Wide Assessment of River Health (AWARH) formerly known as the First National Assessment of River Health (FNARH).
During its course, the administration and funding arrangements for the project also changed. The Project was initially funded by CEPA and administered by LWRRDC, but this changed in mid 1997 as the project was assumed under the Natural Heritage Trust (NHT). Under this new arrangement, state agencies were expected to match NHT funds. In addition, Environment Australia (previously CEPA) took over the role of administering the national program from LWRRDC. The nature of the program also changed to emphasise the assessment of disturbed sites using AusRivAS and the compilation of a comprehensive picture of river health in NSW.
Between spring 1994 and autumn 2000 macroinvertebrate sampling and identification, quality control and assurances, personnel training, data analysis and model development were undertaken as part of the NRHP. During this time 1100 river sites were sampled and three separate versions of predictive models were trialed for assessing river condition. By October 2000, final versions of predictive models were completed and launched on the AusRivAS web site.
For simplicity, the work done in the 7 year period encompassing the MRHI and AWARH is hereafter referred to as the NRHP. Although this is a much broader program, the term is used here to refer to phases I and II of the program which involves the monitoring and assessment of macroinvertebrate communities. The term MRHI is used specifically to refer to the first years of the project (1994-1996). The term AWARH is used to refer to the work conducted from 1997 on.
The aim of this report is to summarise the work carried out in NSW for the NRHP and present the main results of the program. As the volume of work done and data collected is far too large to be adequately presented in this report only overall assessments of rivers in the state will be given. It is expected that more detailed analyses of the data will become available in the form of scientific papers and reports in the future.