Water Quality Improvement Plans (WQIPs)
All South West Western Australian estuaries, especially those in areas with extensive artificial drainage, are severely affected by eutrophication due to agricultural and urban land uses.
Water Quality Improvement Plans (WQIPs) are whole-of-government responses to improve current estuary water quality (and that of the streams and rivers in its catchment) and prevent additional deterioration.
Water Quality Improvement Plans provide a consolidated understanding of water quality issues in the catchment and estuary, identify sources of pollutants (particularly nitrogen and phosphorus) and provide solutions in the form of management actions supported by cost/benefit analyses.
Although the main water quality improvement sought is a reduction of nutrient and organic matter pollution and the symptoms thereof (e.g. algal blooms and fish kills), a reduction in industrial contaminants reaching the waterways, prevention of acid sulfate soil impacts and improvement of river health and function are also important components of improving water quality.
Water Quality Improvement Plans have been developed for three of the most severely affected estuarine systems in the south-west: Peel-Harvey, Swan-Canning and Vasse-Wonnerup. Additional WQIPs have been developed for the Leschenault Estuary and the Hardy Inlet (with a focus on the Scott River). An additional WQIP is being developed for the Hardy Inlet with a focus on the lower Blackwood River.
It is important to recognise that a Water Quality Improvement Plans requires extensive consultation, coordination and action among key government agencies, local government authorities, industry representative bodies and the community.
The Water Quality Improvement Plan outlines a range of management actions which, if taken together, have the potential to improve current water quality, prevent further decline and also deliver a range of water efficiencies and human health outcomes.
Water Quality Improvement Plans are developed in response to estuary condition assessments and based on numerical catchment modelling which identifies and quantifies nutrient sources in the catchment based on subcatchment, land use and land use practices.
Best management practices are identified through extensive consultation with community, landholders and relevant agencies such as Department and Agriculture and Food and applied in the catchment model in different combinations to achieve the required nutrient reductions to improve water quality. Only those management practices which are practical and achievable are considered in the model.
Water Quality Improvement Plans are similar to the earlier generation nutrient reduction and action plans that were developed for Wilson Inlet (WINRAP) and for the Torbay Inlet (Watershed Torbay).
For further information see: