Tracking progress

Duration 00:02:17

Water quality monitoring and the Great Barrier Reef.

Dr Ryan Turner: [00:00:00]

Without water we don't have life. We don't have industry. We don't have farming. We don't have food. So ensuring the water quality for future generations and ensuring the reef for future generations is so important.

Dr Ryan Turner: [00:00:19]

With the recent impact of climate change on the Great Barrier Reef and the recent coral bleaching, it's now more important than ever to bring more people to the table to improve the resilience on the Reef.

Dr Ryan Turner: [00:00:31]

In the Paddock to Reef program we sample water quality in our creeks and streams that discharge water to the Great Barrier Reef. Monitoring our waterways we can assess what condition they're at. We also look at how dirty the water is, the sediment that's in the water. And we also assess it for pesticides and what the pesticide concentrations are. The Paddock to Reef program has a modelling component and it can forecast and assess where investment is needed so that the government can invest specifically in certain areas and get value from that investment.

Dr Ryan Turner: [00:01:03]

So the team based in Brisbane work with regional stakeholders everywhere from the Burnett Mary region all the way up to the Cape York as far as Pascoe. The team spent some time with the farmers. They teach them how to sample the water quality and how to record all the metadata and information about the sample.

Dr Ryan Turner: [00:01:31]

The Sandy Creek farmers are an active group of farmers south of Mackay and they actively put their hand up to be involved in taking samples themselves so they can learn from that water quality information and then take that information back and collectively as a group try to improve their local water quality.

Dr Ryan Turner: [00:01:49]

It's quite encouraging to see them take that data and then go back to their farms and tweak their practices to have a positive effect. The Paddock to Reef program is definitely not about policing. Ultimately we're all trying to improve water quality and that's all for the reef and ensuring its resilience for the future generations. It's not the only program where this is happening, it's happening across the state. I think it's up to everybody. It's not an easy fix. Improving water quality is hard, but if we're all at the table, I think we'll achieve what we're trying to do. We're trying to improve water quality and we're trying to make a difference and we're trying to look after the Great Barrier Reef.

With substantial investment and action underway to improve land practices, water quality and Reef health, we are tracking the work of many stakeholders by monitoring and modelling progress towards the ambitious Reef targets.

Like all Reef actions, there are many stakeholders involved in monitoring programs. Scientists lead the way and in some areas landholders and community members are also provided with training and support to help monitor the health of our waterways. Protecting the Great Barrier Reef requires the efforts of many.


The Paddock to Reef Integrated Monitoring, Modelling and Reporting Program (Paddock to Reef program) is a highly collaborative, world-leading program designed to collect and integrate data on agricultural management, catchment indicators, pollutant run-off and the health of the Great Barrier Reef.

Monitoring and modelling data is collected and reported across six Reef regions and at a catchment and sub-catchment scale in the Reef water quality report card. This program measures progress against the targets under the Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan.

Jointly funded by the Australian and Queensland governments, the Paddock to Reef Program also involves collaboration with industry bodies, regional natural resource management groups, landholders and research organisations.

Examples of on-ground water quality paddock monitoring trials completed under the Paddock to Reef program are outlined in the Great Barrier Reef Paddock and Catchment Science digital storymap.

Other projects

What you can do

From the Great Barrier Reef to Moreton Bay, all Queensland waterways are connected. For example, avoiding littering, wherever you live, will prevent litter getting into waterways and making its way to the Great Barrier Reef. If you live in Reef catchment areas, you can make sure soil and fertiliser stays on your property.

If you are interested in participating in monitoring in your local area or when visiting the Great Barrier Reef get started by exploring the following resources or do a quick online search.

Find out more about how you can help.