13 November 2023
Whether you’re at a dazzling beach on the coast, or at a lush billabong in the bush, it’s not hard to see why our waterways make up a large part of the beauty of Australia. But it’s not just the beauty that matters. Our waterways are home to a rich diversity of flora and fauna, and it’s vital that we ensure that their ecosystem is kept healthy.
Composed of over 142,000 kilometres of waterways, the Fitzroy Basin is the second largest basin in Australia after the Murray-Darling. And it’s the largest that drains into the Great Barrier Reef, which means that its importance to one of Australia’s most visited landmarks is high.
The Fitzroy Partnership for River Health was formed in 2012 with the goal of providing a report card on the basin’s health every year. The report card is publicly available and shows the health of the waterways.
Dr. Leigh Stitz heads up the partnership. And while she enjoys teaching the next generation about the waterways, collecting the data and simplifying it is what gives the community a solid understanding of their waterway environment.
‘So we collect quite a bit of data across all of the basin to make sure that we have a really good complete picture of river health and waterway health. As I said, it's the second-largest basin in Australia, so there's a lot of data to look at, and that data has to be then QA'd and checked. I'm out and about as well, talking to community members, to school groups and at different events and so on around the community too. And then just talking to other people, other stakeholders and other groups in our region about what we can do to manage our waterways and how we can improve on that management as well.’
But waterway health is not just the domain of government and organisations. Waterway health starts with the individual.
‘We all play a part in that, of course. So there's all of those water-wise tips, like having shorter showers and washing a car on the lawn and that sort of thing. But also, I think just being aware of what's happening in your region and talking to people, talking to politicians, talking to industry, just understanding what the pressures are in our region. We certainly have a very busy working basin here. We want to sustain that economy, but we also want the environment to be resilient as well. So, it's finding that balance between the two.’
Ensuring that we leave the planet in a better condition for the next generation should be the goal for everyone. BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) works closely with Fitzroy Partnership for River Health to ensure that environmental sustainability is given the priority it needs.