$579.9 million over 9 years - 2021-22 to 2029-30
Impacts of poor water quality on the Great Barrier Reef
There is clear scientific evidence linking poor water quality to the declining health of coral reefs and other ecosystems in the Great Barrier Reef (the Reef). While coral reefs have the ability to recover from natural events such as cyclones, corals exposed to poor water quality are more susceptible to bleaching and disease and have less resilience to other stressors. Poor water quality is also linked to broad-scale losses of seagrass that is vital habitat for iconic Reef species such as turtles and dugongs. Improving water quality will improve the health of the Reef and increase its resilience to global climate change.
The Australian Government has committed more than $455 million to improve water quality from 2014-15 to 2023-24, supporting farmers to better manage their land and rehabilitate degraded landscapes and wetlands. Addition of this new funding brings Australian Government investment for improving water quality to over $1 billion. Measurable improvements in water quality will take many years to detect because of the scale of interventions across Reef catchments, however progress reports to June 2019 show that we were almost halfway towards meeting the 2025 Reef-wide dissolved inorganic nitrogen target and over halfway to the fine sediment target.
Actions under the new on-ground water quality investment program
($477.1 million over 9 years - 2021-22 to 2029-30)
On-ground actions under the latest investment will accelerate efforts to improve the quality of water entering the Reef and meet targets set out in the joint Australian and Queensland government Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan (WQIP).
The new on-ground water quality investment program will:
- support farmers to voluntarily reduce the runoff of fertiliser, pesticide and soil from their properties through the adoption of more efficient farming practices, helping to build a more sustainable and profitable agricultural sector
- repair landscapes with actively eroding gullies and streambanks to significantly reduce sediment pollution while improving land productivity
- address sources of water pollution across other land uses, including pollutants from urban and public lands ($50 million from the $477.1 million on-ground water quality investment program will be set aside for this activity).
Investment to support the ongoing modelling, monitoring and reporting for water quality outcomes
($56.9 million over 9 years - 2021-22 to 2029-30)
Funding under this package will also provide continued support for science and innovation, monitoring and evaluation to ensure activities are targeted and efficient, and informed by the best scientific and expert advice. This will support continued Australian Government investment in reporting of water quality progress via the joint Australian and Queensland government Paddock to Reef Integrated Monitoring, Modelling and Reporting (P2R) program. This will allow progress towards water quality targets to be tracked and for the production of water quality report cards. This program will also provide information and tools to allow efficient targeting of investments to the highest priority areas and actions.