CAPE York Water Partnership last week launched an $8.5 million water quality program in Cooktown.
In a new initiative funded by the federal government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, four Cape York land management organisations will undertake land-based work to minimise erosion and sediment run-off to Great Barrier Reef waterways.
Coordinated by CYWP, the eight projects cover 631,000 ha of eastern Cape York in the coastal catchments of the Annan, Endeavour, McIvor, Starke, Jeannie, Howick, Wakooka and Muck rivers.
The projects, which address key threats to water quality in eastern Cape York including erosion from fire, roads, tracks and gullies, will be delivered by Yuku Baja Muliku, South Endeavour Trust, South Cape York Catchments and Cape York Water Partnership.
Cape York Water Partnership program director Christina Howley said receiving funding for the Eastern Cape York Water Quality Program recognised many years of research and advocacy from eastern Cape York land managers and provided significant opportunities for local organisations to address the key threats to water quality.
“The rivers, wetlands and marine ecosystems in eastern Cape York are in relatively good condition compared to more heavily developed areas,” Dr Howley said.
“However, there are serious impacts from erosion that will continue to degrade these aquatic ecosystems if they are not addressed.
“We are excited to work together with local landholders, land managers, Traditional Owners, conservation groups and councils to find the best ways to reduce existing road and gully erosion and stop creating more erosion through poor management practices.”
Great Barrier Reef Foundation managing director Anna Marsden said the Great Barrier Reef was an irreplaceable ecosystem, but poor water quality from land run-off was a threat to its health.
“This water quality improvement program is the first major investment of its kind for the eastern Cape York region, bringing together and building on many years of effort by Traditional Owners, councils, landholders, local scientists and conservation groups to foster healthy land and water to benefit our Great Barrier Reef,” Ms Marsden said.
“We’re proud to partner with Cape York Water Partnership, South Cape York Catchments, South Endeavour Trust and Yuku Baja Muliku in launching these new projects.
“By working together to improve the health of the water flowing from the Cape York region to our reef, we’re not only improving conditions for the reef’s precious corals, but we’re also saving our endangered turtles and dugongs that feed on the seagrass beds that need clean water to thrive.”
The program runs until 2024.