Waterways Report Card 2017

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Healthy waterways and catchments are vital systems that keep our local towns and communities thriving, and ensure a healthy and vibrant future.

So how do we know how our waterways are faring? Have things improved? Where do we need to do more work?

Every year, MidCoast Council teams with experts from the Office of Environment and Heritage to investigate our local waterways. The result is the MidCoast Waterway and Catchment Report Card.

The 2017 Report Card has been released and we're pleased to see that almost all sites maintained or improved their grade this year. You can view the summary Report Card results and the full technical report, from the NSW Office of  Environment and Heritage (see top right of this page).

This year, we shone a spotlight on the Manning River estuary, celebrating the hard work of local farmers including Peter Longworth, Ian Crisp and Julian Biega, who are improving landscape and waterway health.  They are also featured in the report card for managing their farmland to be sensitive to waterway and catchment health whilst maintaining productivity for their businesses.

You can view videos below featuring our 'local legends' looking after our waterways - beef farmer Peter Longworth, dairy farmer Julian Biega and oyster farmer Ian Crisp.

Throughout the year, the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage carries out independent scientific testing and analysis within our catchments and waterways to provide a score that is presented as a report card.  It is graded A-F, much like a school report card! The annual score can be compared to previous years and also to other estuaries within NSW. The report card is used to guide future management actions to ensure long-term ecological health of our catchments.

We are applauding the efforts of its community partners, along with stakeholders such as the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, after the release of the 2017 Waterways and Catchment Report Card. This first combined MidCoast Report Card presents results for the Manning River Estuary, Khappinghat Creek, Wallis Lake, Smiths Lake and Myall Lakes.

Revealing the results to the MidCoast community, Dr Peter Scanes from the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) said "it's pleasing to see that almost all sites maintained or improved their grade this year". Dr Scanes leads an independent team of scientists who assess the health of the waterways each year. The Report Card helps us compare the current conditions with the condition we would like them to be. The sites are graded from A-F and compared to other locations across NSW.

Results this year show that the Manning River estuary has maintained a B grade over the past four years and is in good ecological condition, with the Khappinghat Creek estuary continuing with an A grade due to excellent water clarity and low algal growth. The Mid Wallamba Estuary and Wallamba Cove have maintained a grade of C and B respectively for the last three years, with Pipers Creek maintaining a B grade. Central Wallis Lake declined from an A to a B this year. Further south, Smiths Lake, Charlotte Bay and Myall Lake have all report an A, while the lower Myall Estuary and Bombah Broadwater both reported a B, equal to, or improved from, previous years.  

This year, Council shone a spotlight on the Manning River estuary, celebrating the hard work of local farmers including Peter Longworth, Ian Crisp and Julian Biega, who are improving landscape and waterway health.  They are also featured in the report card for managing their farmland to be sensitive to waterway and catchment health whilst maintaining productivity for their businesses.

The report card results are available to view here (see the links at top right of this page).

View our videos highlighting the work of our local legends.  Beef farmer Peter Longworth, dairy farmer Julian Biega and oyster farmer Ian Crisp - are making positive changes to support their farm productivity and the water quality of our waterways.

Some of the work undertaken by individual community members - on their farms, on the rivers and lakes, and in our towns - is truly inspirational and we are happy to share their stories with you over the coming month, in the lead up to the release of the Report Card.

The partnerships we have with our 'local legends' who look after our waterways are very important - it's often their actions and efforts that contribute directly to the 'score' a waterway receives on the Report Card.

Ian Crisp, Oyster Farmer

Ian Crisp is a local oyster farmer. From his start in the industry in the mid-1980s, he has been an outspoken advocate for water quality. Ian understands that water quality affects the oyster industry and the vital importance of good management practices upstream of the estuary to ensure his oysters thrive in the lower estuary. Ian’s history is a tapestry of lobbying, supporting rigorous testing, and establishing best management land practices in the Manning River.  He has seen improvements in estuary health, proven by the data collection he has undertaken as part of his industry, through the management of acid sulfate soils and effluent on farms.  Ian’s ongoing support, strong voice and recognition has improved estuary health through the coordinated work of upstream and downstream land managers and exemplifies true leadership in the Manning. Learn more about Ian's efforts here:

Julian Biega - Dairy Farmer

Julian Biega is a dairy farmer in the Manning River Catchment. "I need to be accountable to the land and to the environment" he says, and has taken an innovative new approach to managing the effluent issue on his land and improve water quality. Julian has installed a new system that allows the effluent to be captured, stored and irrigated on his paddocks as he deems necessary. This has proven to be very effective with immediate changes in productivity on the irrigated paddocks and the reestablishment of a salt marsh in a nearby wetland that is also reaping the benefits of reduced effluent discharge. Watch his video here:

Peter Longworth - Grazier

Peter Longworth descends from a long lineage of farmers. He lives on the same farm and works the same land as his grandfather, and this connection has left a legacy with Peter which he is now passing on to his children. Maybe it’s that sense of place or connection but this land has made a mark on Peter. He is a self-confessed biological farmer and manages the land based on what is good for the land and what is good for his family. His mindset and management techniques for drainage have ensured that best practice really is undertaken. For Peter it is a mixture of advice from experts, mixed in with hands on real life experience that has shown him the way to find a balance between reducing surface water and maximizing groundwater levels.

In this video, Peter shares with us the actions he takes on his farm to manage acid sulfate soils:

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  2. Bill Heffernan
    Why moderation. Open and transparent council I’m told???
    1. MidCoast Council
      Moderator
      Thanks Bill,
      Moderation is required so that we can ensure our site does not include non-acceptable language, or comments that may be defamatory, libelous or otherwise breach Australian law. As you'll note, we couldn't publish your initial comment because it contained unacceptable language. However, we're happy to publish your comments if they are non-offensive and comply with Australian publishing laws!
  3. Rod Zemanek
    I note that you issue an A-F report card for various areas
    Where can we access the actual data used to base these reports on and how and when is the areas sampled?
    As a resident in the Branch and lower Karuah river areas I am interested in the actual results, the time the sample was taken and the weather/river condition at the time as these can affect the analysis and the result
    1. MidCoast Council
      Hi Rod,
      The Report Card results will be launched in Taree on Tuesday 5 December - this is a public event and everyone's welcome to attend. The Report Card and a technical report, which should help you with the information you require above, will be placed on this website on 5 December, after the Launch event. You can view last year's Report and technical report here: http://www.midcoast.nsw.gov.au/Council/Works-and-Projects/Council-Projects/Report-Card
      A number of samples are taken from each site on different days to ensure the validity of the findings.
    2. Rod Zemanek
      Thanks for the response
      We have booked for the launch of the 2017 report
      We are aware of the 2016 Report and featured on the last page as the meeting at The Branch
      The A-F report is OK as a general indication however we need particulars in order to get an accurate measure of results at a time and place so real action can be taken by landholders
      The Karuah Catchment Landcare Group of which I am Convener is keen to assist in catchment and hence river improvement bu generalities do not allow specific action to follow.
      Rod Zemanek