About this project

Water monitoring to improve NSW river health after 2022 floods.

Improving water quality in the Bellinger and Nambucca Rivers.

GeoLINK’s team has recently completed monthly water quality monitoring in both the Nambucca and Bellinger Rivers as part of the NSW Government’s Flood Recovery program for water quality.

Through comprehensive monitoring and real time data capture, the program was designed to build a picture of how water quality is recovering in waterways significantly impacted by the 2022 floods.

Engaged by the Department of Planning and Environment (DPE), GeoLINK was responsible for the ongoing monitoring of the Nambucca and Bellinger River catchment, as part of a broader program across affected rivers on the NSW coast.

Aims of the Flood Recovery Program for Water Quality Monitoring
Primary aims of the program were to develop and share information about flood impacts on water quality and waterways recovery. Analysis of the data will help waterway users and decision makers following future flood events.

The program was initiated to:

  • Improve understanding of the longer-term impacts of floods on water quality
  • Support local capacity to monitor water quality for flood events
  • Facilitate environmental recovery

Scope and monitoring locations on the Bellinger and Nambucca Rivers
Routine monthly monitoring was undertaken at eleven key locations within the Bellinger River catchment and seven sites within and Nambucca River catchment. Sample collection began in the lower estuary and worked upstream, with preference given to sampling during an outgoing tide.

Although the program focused on dry weather sampling, flood event monitoring was undertaken separately to provide further data on the ongoing effects of subsequent flood events during the monitoring period.

Collection of In-Situ Water Quality Data
Adhering to program parameters, the following attributes were measured in the field each month at the nineteen specific locations:

■          pH

■          Temperature

■          Electrical Conductivity (EC)

■          Dissolved oxygen (DO)

■          Turbidity (NTU).

Field measurements were also made prior to the sample collections for laboratory analysis.

 Water Quality Grades
Data collected has been used to assess water quality by developing a grading system. Water quality monitoring results have been used to grade water quality at sites within waterways from ‘Very Good’ to ‘Very Poor,’

This data, along with that collected up and down the east coast in the broader program has been collated to provide an interesting overview on the condition of NSW’s coastal river systems.

 How are the Bellinger and Nambucca Rivers recovering?
The data is now publicly available online, providing valuable information about the water quality and how the rivers are recovering. Data over the monitoring period experiences a degree of variation however, most results at most locations have consistently fallen within the “Fair” through to “Very Good” range indicating that overall, water quality in the Bellinger and Nambucca Rivers post-flood is good.

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