What problems does water pollution cause?
When sediment and excess nutrients runoff lands into Reef waters they can cause harmful algal blooms, reduce the amount of light available to seagrasses and smother marine ecosystems.
These ecosystems are critical habitats for threatened dugongs, turtles and juvenile fish.
While climate change remains the biggest threat to our Great Barrier Reef, cleaning up the water that flows from the land reduces further pressure and helps our Great Barrier Reef to restore its health.
What is being done about pollution in our Great Barrier Reef?
We have an incredible opportunity to help our vulnerable Great Barrier Reef.
In 2019, the Queensland government strengthened Reef laws after decades of inaction by farmers and graziers to stop water pollution. The majority of farmers follow water pollution laws and do the right thing, however, a small minority of farmers have not changed their practices so the last resort is law enforcement with strong monitoring and penalties. Together, we can keep the Reef healthy but we need farmers to do the right thing by adopting cleaner, more profitable practices, and for those who don’t change, we need to enforce pollution laws.
How water pollution enters our waterways and reaches the Reef
Water pollution is an entirely preventable problem. The solution to it is to start making changes on our land before it ends up in our waterways.
Climate change requires an international effort and cooperation (of which Australia and Queensland should play its part!) Tackling water pollution in runoff that’s entering our Reef, on the other hand, is entirely in Queensland’s control. Meaning, we have the power to fix this easily and quickly.
After decades of incentives for voluntary management practices, water quality of our inshore Reef has remained in poor condition.
In 2019, the QLD government passed a historic bill designed to improve the quality of the water that flows from farming and grazing properties in northern Queensland into our Reef.
So meeting sensible fertiliser use requirements and minimum practice standards for agriculture on land, as well as, restoring cleared land, waterways and coastlines with vegetation, are some of many solutions that will reduce water pollution from reaching our Great Barrier Reef.