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Community scientists and the scientific community working together to support the recovery of the Bellinger River Snapping Turtle. 
River Health Snapshot

- MARCH 2020 - 
From the Coordinator

Each month, our volunteers test the water quality of our rivers to support river health and the recovery of the Critically Endangered Bellinger River Snapping Turtle. This newsletter outlines our latest data. 

Our upcoming events (Volunteer Training, Testathon, River Health Panel) have been postponed due to COVID-19. 

Partners will host an online River Health Panel later this year, where will will have our scientists available to answer your questions about river health.

Please send questions you would like to ask our scientist panel
to Amy on riverwatch@ozgreen.org.au asp so partners can prepare responses.

For our Rivers, 

Amy
How to Read our Graphs:

Box & Whisker Plot 
The complete data set from July 2017 to present is represented as a box and whisker plot. This plot style is commonly used to show key parameters regarding data sets. The maximum and minimum are represented via the whiskers and the box is showing average data and the median.
Average To Date Data 
We now highlight on our graphs and maps (red dots) the sites where their to-date average (mean) does not meet the guidelines of a healthy river.
Removing Outliers
To improve legibility of our data, we have removed outliers. Outliers have been removed by determining the midpoint in the upper and lower quartiles, to define the upper and lower bounds of the data. Data outside these bounds has been removed to create the graphs below. To see the methodology and the raw data, please visit www.ozgreen.org.au/br_data  
Coloured Bands 
To aid interpretation of the water quality results, the parameters are scored against qualitative measures of the extent outside Guidelines. The definitions for assessment of results against the categories, and their indicated colours are as follows: 
  • Excellent = within ANZECC guideline 
  • Very Good = <25% outside ANZECC guideline 
  • Fair = outside the ANZECC guideline or 80th percentile trigger value by 25-50%
  • Poor = Outside the ANZECC guideline or 80th percentile trigger value by 50-75%
  • Very poor = >75% outside the ANZECC guideline or 80th percentile trigger value. 
Key
In our interpretation of the data, we have the following symbol:

🐢Core Bellinger River Snapping Turtle habitat
Site Photos & Observations NEW
We have now added the most recente site photos and volunteer observations from a selection of sites.
Other Parameters  NEW
We have now added a table showing Air and Water Temperature, Electrical Conductivity, Turbitiy and pH.
The following graphs highlight results from testing on the
11/12 February and 10/11 March 2020. 
AVAILABLE PHOSPHATE      
 

AVERAGE TO DATE : 11/28 MEETS GUIDELINES   39%
 (17 sites at or above trigger value)

FEBRUARY 2020 : 4/12 MEETS GUIDELINES   
33%
 (8 sites at or above trigger value)

MARCH 2019 : 9/15 MEETS GUIDELINES   
60%
 (6 sites at or above trigger value)
 
Bellingen Riverwatch Available Phosphate Data
You can click on the legend labels to turn different layers on and off.
View interactive Available Phosphate graph online
WHAT IS THE DATA TELLING US? 
AVERAGE TO DATE
The sites most regularly failing to meet the ANZECC Guidelines for Available Phosphate (mg/L) for Healthy Rivers (based on the average to-date data) are: 
  • B2 (Bellinger River) 🐢
  • B2.1 (Cool Creek) 🐢
  • B3 (Bellinger River) 🐢
  • B4 (Bellinger River) 🐢
  • B5 (Bellinger River) 🐢
  • B6 (Bellinger River) 🐢
  • B7 (Bellinger River) 🐢
  • B7.1 (Caratti Creek)
  • B8 (Bellinger River)
  • B8.1 (Bellinger River)
  • K1.1 (Kalang River) 
  • K1.2 (Kalang River) 
  • K1.3 (Kalang River)
  • K2 (Kalang River) 
  • NN1.2 (Never Never River)
  • R1 (Rosewood River) 
  • S1 (Spicketts Creek)
See map below for Average-To-Date Available Phosphate (mg/L) data represented geographically (please note we are yet to add sites B8.1, K1.3 and K1.4 to this map).
MARCH 2020
The data tells us that the sites failing to meet ANZECC Guidelines for Available Phosphate (mg/L) for Healthy Rivers this month are:
  • B2.1 (Cool Creek) 🐢
  • B3 (Bellinger River) 🐢
  • B4 (Bellinger River) 🐢
  • B5 (Bellinger River) 🐢
  • B6 (Bellinger River) 🐢
  • B7.1 (Caratti Creek)
FEBRUARY 2020
The data tells us that the sites failing to meet ANZECC Guidelines for Available Phosphate (mg/L) for Healthy Rivers last month are:
  • B4 (Bellinger River) 🐢
  • B7.1 (Caratti Creek) 
  • B8 (Bellinger River)
  • K1.1 (Kalang River)
  • K1.2 (Kalang River)
  • K2 (Kalang River) 
  • K3 (Kalang River) 
  • K4 (Kalang River) 
WHAT HAPPENS OUTSIDE THE HEALTHY RANGE (SHOWN IN BLUE)?
Frequent occurrence of Available Phosphate results above 0.02mg/L could be harmful to aquatic ecosystems and increases the likelihood of impacts on waterways such as an abundance of algae and aquatic weeds which out-compete native plants; waterways choked with vegetation; increased biochemical oxygen demand; reduced dissolved oxygen; reduced plant and animal diversity; blue-green algal blooms; and eutrophication.

Possible causes of results outside these values include sewage, sediments erosion, faeces from feedlots, dairies and pets, phosphate-based detergents, decaying plant material, fertilisers and industrial waste and natural geological sources.

Scientists from the NSW Department of Planning, Industry & Environment (DPIE) are carrying out a comprehensive bi-annual water quality and macro-invertebrate surveys which will help identify the causes of elevated phosphate and nitrate levels.
DISSOLVED OXYGEN          

AVERAGE TO DATE : 8/27 MEETS GUIDELINES   30%
 (19 sites outside green band for Healthy Rivers)

MARCH 2020 : 8/16 MEETS GUIDELINES   
50%
 (8 sites tested outside green band for Healthy Rivers)

FEBRUARY 2020 : 6/17 MEETS GUIDELINES   
35%
 (11 sites outside green band for Healthy Rivers)
Bellingen Riverwatch Dissolved Oxygen Data
You can click on the different layers on the interactive graph to turn them on and off.
View interactive Dissolved Oxygen graph online
WHAT IS THE DATA TELLING US? 
AVERAGE TO DATE
The sites most regularly failing to meet the ANZECC Guidelines for Dissolved Oxygen (%sat) for Healthy Rivers (based on the average to-date data) are:
  • B1 (Bellinger River) 🐢
  • B2 (Bellinger River) 🐢
  • B2.1 (Cool Creek) 🐢
  • B3.1 (Bellinger River) 🐢
  • B7.1 (Caratti Creek)
  • B8 (Bellinger River)
  • K1 (Kalang River)
  • K1.1 (Kalang River)
  • K1.2 (Kalang River)
  • K1.3 (Kalang River)
  • K2 (Kalang River)
  • K3 (Kalang River)
  • K4 (Kalang River)
  • NN1 (Never Never River) 
  • NN1.1 (Never Never River) 
  • NN1.2 (Never Never River) 
  • NN1.3 (Never Never River)
  • NN2 (Never Never River) 
  • S1 (Spicketts Creek)    
See map below for Average-To-Date Dissolved Oxygen (% sat) data represented geographically (please note we are yet to add sites B8.1, K1.3 and K1.4 to this map).
MARCH 2020
The data tells us that the sites failing to meet ANZECC Guidelines for Dissolved Oxygen (%sat) for a healthy river this month are:
  • B3 (Bellinger River) 🐢
  • B3.1 (Bellinger River) 🐢
  • B4 (Bellinger River) 🐢
  • B6 (Bellinger River) 🐢 
  • B7.1 (Caratti Creek)
  • K4 (Kalang River) 
  • NN1(Never Never River) 
  • NN2 (Never Never River)  
FEBRUARY 2020
The data tells us that the sites failing to meet ANZECC Guidelines for Dissolved Oxygen (%sat) for a healthy river last month are:
  • B1 (Bellinger River) 🐢
  • B2 (Bellinger River) 🐢
  • B2.1 (Cool Creek) 🐢
  • B6 (Bellinger River) ) 🐢
  • B7.1 (Caratti Creek) 
  • B8 (Bellinger River) 
  • K1 (Kalang River)
  • K2 (Kalang River) 
  • K3 (Kalang River) 
  • K4 (Kalang River) 
  • NN2 (Never Never River) 
WHAT HAPPENS OUTSIDE THE HEALTHY RANGE (SHOWN IN GREEN)? 
Results outside the guidelines could be harmful to ecosystems. Dissolved Oxygen levels below 85% is a threat to aquatic life and the macroinvertebrates that our turtles love to eat. Potential impacts outside ANZECC trigger values include lack of oxygen to support aquatic plant and animal life and fish kills. Monitoring Dissolved Oxygen levels is very important as the Bellingen River Snapping Turtle (BRST) is able to supplement its oxygen uptake through cloacal (bum) breathing, reducing its need to come to the water surface to breathe.

Possible causes of results outside these values include stagnant water, organic waste such as sewage, fertiliser run-off and plant material in the waterway. Micro-organisms use the oxygen as they break down the organic matter.
OTHER PARAMETERS | MARCH 2020
SITE PHOTOS & OBSERVATIONS | MARCH 2020

B2.1 - Bellinger River

"The river is obviously very high and flowing fast,humid and cloudy,started to rain during sampling,no wildlife observed. There has been fire in the bush close to the river -some stretches of the access road has been dozed fairly recently and rubble and a few fallen trees cut and/or pushed aside."

B3.1 - Bellinger River

"High and rapid flow. High sediment load. No odour."

B7.1 - Caratti Creek

"No bees anymore. Never seen the level this high without flooding."

NN1.2 - Never Never River

"Cloudy with light drizzle. Some white foam at pool edge in collection area."

R1 - Rosewood River

"Fast flow, overcast day, no visible pollution, odour or algae. Caterpillars on rocks."

The latest spreadsheet with our full data set is available here

Any further questions, please contact us on riverwatch@ozgreen.org.au

- OUR PARTNERS - 
Bellingen Riverwatch is an initiative of OzGREEN and The Office of Environment & Heritage in partnership with Bellingen Shire Council, NSW Waterwatch, Western Sydney University, Taronga Zoo Sydney, Bellinger Landcare, Earthwatch Institute, Eco Logical Australia, North Coast Local Land Services and Jaliigirr Biodiversity Alliance. 
This River Health Snapshot is proudly supported by
Copyright © Bellingen Riverwatch 2018

You are receiving this because you are a Bellingen Riverwatch volunteer, partner, have signed up, attended a Bellingen Riverwatch or OzGREEN event, contacted us, joined one of our groups, or donated to one of our campaigns. 

For questions, please contact Amy Denshire, Bellingen Riverwatch Coordinator
on riverwatch@ozgreen.org.au or 0490 068 685.

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