Why the need for an Action Plan?The condition of Wilson Inlet has been a cause of concern for many years, and prompted much research, debate and practical work to reduce nutrients entering the Inlet. To date however, there has been no document that brings together this research and provides an agreed list of work needed to improve the condition of the Inlet. The Wilson Inlet Nutrient Reduction Action Plan fills this gap.
The preparation of the Action Plan is considered timely. Studies into the fate of nutrients within the Inlet have recently been completed, as well as engineering studies into marine exchange with the Inlet. A combination of water quality monitoring and modelling has given information on nutrient sources to the Inlet, and programs of foreshore and drain rehabilitation have provided valuable experience and knowledge into the practicality of management actions in the catchment. With this information, the Wilson Inlet Management Authority (1994-2001) was establishing priorities for action. There is a need for this to continue.
The benefits of having an Action Plan include:
Restoring the condition of Wilson Inlet is considered dependant upon reaching agreement on what actions are needed, by whom, in what time-frame. The Action Plan seeks to provide this guidance.
Purpose of Summary of ActionsThe Action Plan is a large document, containing the results of much research, diagrams and discussion. It provides substantiation of the actions needed to reduce nutrient input to Wilson Inlet.
The Summary of Actions is provided to assist agencies and the community in commenting on the proposals from the Action Plan. Although not providing the full research substantiating each action, it provides a much briefer document that is easier to read, so encouraging debate on the proposed actions.
Those agencies or groups wishing to read the full Action Plan can obtain a copy from the Water and Rivers Commission.
Focus of the Action Plan - Eutrophication.Wilson Inlet is considered nutrient enriched, or 'eutrophic'. The high nutrient levels in the Inlet are demonstrated in the growth of the seagrass Ruppia megacarpa and in the abundance of algae. Ruppia was once scarce, but has become prolific since the 1970's. Blooms of free floating microalgae (phytoplankton) also occur. Black ooze on the inlet bed is organic matter from the decay of this plant and algal growth.
Despite the signs of eutrophication water quality in the Inlet is relatively good and has shown no signs of measurable deterioration over the last 8 years. However, if nutrient inputs remain at high levels there is the possibility that phytoplankton blooms could become more common, and be possibly harmful. Use of the Inlet could become more restricted.
The focus of the Action Plan is on reducing nutrients into the Inlet. It does not seek to guide use of the Inlet or its foreshores, tackle weeds or manage chemical use. Although each of these issues are important in their own right, research has emphasised the single biggest influence on the health of the Inlet is nutrient input.
Research has indicated the majority of the nutrients in wetter years come from the Hay and Denmark Rivers, but per hectare greater levels of nutrients come from the Sleeman and Sunny Glen Rivers and Cuppup Drain, and possibly from urban areas.
Developing a community vision for the InletCommunity opinion surveys were undertaken during the preparation of the Action Plan, to determine community expectations of the Inlet and its catchment. The surveys have helped guide the Actions in this Plan.
The overarching question posed through meetings, telephone surveys and public forums was "What is your vision for Wilson Inlet and its catchment in twenty years?"
The surveys covered both catchment and urban residents. Responses identified landscape and natural environment, access and recreation, and quality of environment as the major values.
There were many common visions expressed through the consultation, the main ones being
From these surveys a vision for the Action Plan was developed as follows-
"We want to see the unique environment of Wilson Inlet, its foreshore and waterways protected in their natural state, and the maintenance of a diverse and productive landscape across the whole catchment area."
Abbreviations used in this document