Goulburn catchment

Presenting outcomes of long term nutrient management in a large Victorian catchment
P Feehan, M Turner
Publication Date (Web): 3 August 2017
DOI: https://doi.org/10.21139/wej.2017.028

The Goulburn Broken Water Quality Strategy (WQS) (GBREWQC, 1997) was originally developed in the mid-1990s. Strategy implementation was expected to occur over 20 years, finishing in 2016. Implementation has been underway since the mid-1990s. The 1996 version of the WQS was reviewed in 2002 and 2008. The original strategy focused on reducing the risk and impacts of blue green algal blooms by reducing the inputs of nutrients, especially phosphorus, to waterways and waterbodies.

Many of the actions in the WQS were incorporated in the Goulburn Broken CMA Regional River Health Strategy 2005 – 2015 (now updated as the Goulburn Broken Waterway Strategy 2014 – 2022) (GB CMA, 2014). 

The Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority (GBCMA) undertook a review to assess WQS progress in 2016. Changes in catchment conditions suggest that modifications in the approach to water quality management may be warranted.

A substantial program of works has been implemented. In dryland areas, 818 km of stream buffers have been established; in irrigation areas, 3475 water reuse systems and 34 high flow storages have been installed and a number of wastewater management facilities have been upgraded.

Over the 20 year period of WQS implementation, numerous changes have affected nutrient delivery to waterways. These changes affect planning and implementation and include:

  • Drier climate
  • Wastewater treatment plants discharging to land rather than to stream
  • Very large reduction in irrigation water availability and subsequent focus on water use efficiency
  • Steady increase in urbanised area, and a likely very large increase in urban area in the south due to Melbourne expansion
  • 20 years of catchment and waterway management activities (for example 818 km of streamside has been fenced)
  • Knowledge, education and best practise development and adoption. 


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