Working together for the health of Adelaide’s coastal waters

The EPA has developed the Adelaide Coastal Water Quality Improvement Plan (ACWQIP) as an agreed approach across industry, community, and state and local government to improve water quality along Adelaide’s coast.

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is grateful to the Adelaide community for their involvement in developing the ACWQIP over recent years. The ACWQIP is for our community and is informed by sound science.

The community agreed vision in the ACWQIP is “Healthy aquatic ecosystems where environmental, social and economic values are considered in equal and high regard in a balanced management approach that aims to see the return of the blue-line of seagrass closer to shore by 2050”.

Healthy seagrass ecosystems provide the place to live for species that are fished commercially and recreationally. Seagrasses store amounts of carbon that are many times greater than equivalent terrestrial-based areas of native vegetation, and they protect and stabilise our beaches and other shorelines.

The Adelaide community noted the loss of seagrass as early as 60 years ago but the causes were complex and needed to be well understood to manage the local ecosystem in a way that would allow the seagrass to return.

The Adelaide Coastal Waters Study (ACWS) was a scientific program undertaken through the CSIRO from 2001 to 2008 to understand how to respond to extensive loss of seagrass, poor water quality and sediment instability along Adelaide’s coastline.

The study found that inputs of nutrients and sediments from industrial, wastewater and stormwater discharges were the main cause of poor water quality and seagrass loss.

The ACWQIP tells us how to manage our local stormwater, wastewater and industrial discharges using research from the ACWS and other research influenced by its findings.

The ACWQIP is a document that will change the way that we manage our coast as a community. Community and stakeholder input has been a key part of developing the plan including the agreed vision and environmental values (EVs) that guide the desired water quality improvement for Adelaide’s catchments and coastal waters. The EVs identified for Adelaide’s coastal waters include: aquatic ecosystems, cultural and spiritual, aquatic food consumption, industrial, raw drinking water (via desalination), primary and secondary recreation and visual appreciation.

Implementing the ACWQIP will be through eight management strategies. The document is linked to key government policies in-cluding The 30-Year Plan for Greater Adelaide, Water for Good and the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges (AMLR) Natural Resources Management (NRM) Regional Plan.
The EPA is the lead agency to seek reduction of nutrients and sediments from point source discharges through licensing conditions. Addressing stormwater issues involves many more players including the AMLR NRM Board, local governments, a range of state agencies and local communities.

A greater understanding of catchment to coast connections is required to address coast and marine water quality issues. The EPA promotes catchment to coast application of water sensitive urban design (WSUD) to improve water quality from stormwater along the Adelaide coast.

Improving coastal water quality is something everyone can be involved in as what happens on the land in our catchments impacts Adelaide’s coastal waters. Improved water quality is the responsibility of everyone including residents in urban areas, property owners, local businesses, community organisations, local government and state agencies.

The EPA will be present at this year’s Adelaide Boat Show held at the Royal Adelaide Showgrounds on 20–23 June 2013.

Come visit the EPA stand to find out more about Adelaide’s coastal waters and other activities that support boating, fishing and enjoyment of South Australia’s coast.

The EPA will also again be running the Environment Trail to keep the kids entertained. Get your entry form at the door, fill it out correctly and place in the entry box at the EPA stand. You’ll be in the running for some fun prizes.

For further information on Adelaide’s coastal waters and water quality information visit the EPA website