Short Virtual Presentation & Digital Poster 10th Australian Stream Management Conference 2021

Target the right gullies using the right approach to achieve the GBR Water Quality Targets (#63)

Andrew Brooks 1 , John Spencer 1 , James Daley 1 , Justin Stout 1 , Robin Thwaites 1 , Graeme Curwen 1
  1. Coastal and Marine Research Centre, Griffith University, Parklands Drive Southport, qld, Australia

Current estimates are that ~50% of the fine sediment load entering the GBR lagoon is sourced from gully erosion. In 2015, prior to the establishment of the NESP Tropical Water Quality Program, there was little understanding of which gullies were the dominant sediment sources, how they should be remediated, what sort of sediment reductions could be achieved, how long it would take to achieve such reductions, and at what cost?

Research implemented through NESP between 2016 and 2020 addressed each of these issues, and we can report most of these knowledge gaps have been largely resolved. 

Key results:

  • High resolution gully mapping shows us that in key gully hotspot areas, 30% of the fine sediment load is sourced from between 1.5–3.5% of the gully population. This now provides the means to identify which individual gullies should be targeted for remediation.
  • Lifetime gully volumes derived from this mapping indicate that 156Mt (0.28 Sydharbs) were eroded from gullies over the last 130 years in the ~5300km2
  • It has been demonstrated that large scale (i.e. sites > 1ha) remediation of alluvial gullies can achieve >95% sediment reductions in 1 – 2 years

This research puts to bed notions promulgated by some in the media that there has been no European landuse impact on Reef water quality. It also means that the ambitious Reef2050 water quality targets are now achievable, at substantially less cost than the previous estimate of $8Bn.  However, substantial coordination and upscaling of effort is required to meet the targets.

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