The study is being undertaken by James Cook University’s School for Tropical Freshwater Research with financial support from the Water Resources Commission (Queensland) and physical assistance from the Commission’s Ayr based hydrographers.
The project aims to address problems of water management in a tropical wetland system which is in the process of undergoing dramatic changes through the development of a major irrigation scheme. An intensive water sampling program will establish baseline water quality data especially with respect to nutrient input and algal blooms in the surface water draining into the Barratta Wetlands area which fringes the proposed left bank area of the Burdekin River Irrigation Area (B.R.I.A.). Continued sampling and analysis will provide data on any induced changes to water quality as development of the drainage system for new sugar cane and rice farms provides an efficient line of travel for irrigation tailwater and flood runoff to the wet lands and tidal area of Bowling Green Bay.
The study complements other projects being undertaken in the region by the Australian Centre for Tropical Freshwater Research including studies of the hydrology of the B.R.I.A., the ecology of the Lower Burdekin River, the limnology of the Burdekin Dam and the hydrology and ecology of a head water tributary of the Burdekin River.
A separate project is being undertaken by the Australian Institute of Marine Science (A.I.M.S.) to sample water in coastal streams in North Queensland for analysis of dissolved nutrients and particulate material to determine their possible effects on the Great Barrier Reef. The Hydrographic Section of the Water Resources Commission is also involved in this sampling program.