Monitoring River Health Initiative Technical Report Number 4
L. Metzeling - VIC Environment Protection Authority
Environment Australia, 2002
ISBN 0 642 54833 1 ISSN 1447-1280
- Australia-Wide Assessment of River Health: Victorian Bioassessment Report (Final Report) (PDF - 690 KB)
- Australia-Wide Assessment of River Health: Victorian Bioassessment Report (Final Report) - Appendix 2: QA/QC sheets used for laboratory processing of invertebrate samples (PDF - 58 KB)
- Australia-Wide Assessment of River Health: Victorian Bioassessment Report (Final Report) - Appendix 4: Environmental features of biological groups for all models (PDF - 120 KB)
About the report
EPA established its statewide physico-chemical monitoring network in 1984. At about the same time, a biological monitoring program of the Yarra River began using benthic macroinvertebrate communities as indicators. The main aims of the biological monitoring were to provide information which could be used in conjunction with physico-chemical data to assess water quality, aid in the protection of beneficial uses of the rivers and assess the status of the invertebrate communities.
The biological network was expanded in 1985 to include the Wimmera, Werribee and Maribyrnong Rivers. Intensive, quantitative sampling methods were used throughout this program, with 8 samples collected at each site using either a Hess or airlift sampler, depending on whether a riffle or pool was sampled. Twenty sites in total were sampled twice yearly between 1984 and 1988. Data from this program have been mainly reported in EPA publications, although they have been used in many ways.
The program was reviewed during 1989 by a group with representatives from the State Water Laboratories, Museum of Victoria and EPA. From this review, a rapid approach to the sampling was adopted, based on the procedures used by EPA in monitoring the LaTrobe River since 1982.
This approach required one sample to be taken from each of three habitats - riffles, logs and edges/pools. A kick sample was taken from riffles in areas of moderate to fast current, woody debris was removed from the stream and picked clean of animals, and a sweep sample taken from slow flowing areas along the bank, in backwaters and among any aquatic vegetation. Samples were live-sorted in the field for 30 minutes, the remaining material then discarded and the preserved animals identified in the laboratory to the highest level of taxonomic resolution (usually species).
The new phase of EPA's biological monitoring program began in 1990, with 55 sites in 6 AWRC basins sampled using the rapid bioassessment approach. The basins sampled were the Ovens, Campaspe, Barwon, Otways, South Gippsland and Snowy. The sampling occurred in autumn and spring, and most sites were sampled for two years. Sampling was continued in the Barwon and Campaspe catchments for an additional year as the data had been particularly variable. Log sampling was discontinued after 1992 because it was far more variable than either the benthic or littoral habitats and this variability made interpretations very difficult.
The monitoring work between 1984 and 1993 was carried out for EPA by the then State Water Laboratories. With the commencement of the NRHP, the monitoring during the Monitoring River Health Initiative (MRHI) phase was jointly carried out by EPA and Water ECOscience (now AWT). Each organisation brought additional resources to the Program such as the commitment of internal resources and funds provided by other bodies (Landcare, regional water authorities) which enabled a greater number of sites to be sampled. With the commencement of the First National Assessment of River Health (FNARH) and the Australia-wide Assessment of River Health (AWARH), all of the sampling and analysis was carried out by EPA.