World Rivers Day – 25th September 2011

World Rivers Day (25th September 2011) is a global celebration of the world’s waterways, observed every last Sunday in September. Established in 2005, it highlights the many values of rivers and strives to increase public awareness while encouraging the improved stewardship of rivers around the world.

Did you know?

One third of Australian rivers have been damaged and in New South Wales this figure rises to 85 percent (The National Land and Water Resources Audit).

The most threatened group of animals in the world are freshwater fish (36% threatened with extinction), compared to mammals (21%) and birds (12%).

Australia is the driest inhabited continent on earth, with the least amount of water in rivers, and the most variable rainfall and stream-flow in the world.

Taking care of our rivers means we will be taking care of our seagrass and species like dugong and green turtles that are dependent upon it. It also means all other marine species found at the end of our rivers will be far better of.

So what’s the status of our waterways and Moreton Bay?

So how are our local rivers and creeks fairing? A recent Department of Environment and Resource Management report, “The future of our bay” made the following observations.

Despite current efforts by the community, the non-government and government sectors, the condition of SEQ waterways and Moreton Bay continues to decline. Under a business as usual scenario, loads of key pollutants are expected to grow in the coming decades, particularly as a result of urban development. However, rural diffuse loads still significantly dominate the sediment entering the bay. Diffuse source water pollution is caused when pollutants from a range of dispersed urban and rural land use activities contaminate our waterways

Environmental problems are also economic, social and cultural problems.

Environmental problems are also economic, social and cultural problems, particularly for sectors reliant on resource condition to maintain competitiveness and market share. Significant impacts in the longer term could be expected for primary industries, nature-based tourism, the recreational sector, water supply costs, and housing values in some areas. For example: if turnover in nature-based tourism was 20% lower in 2031 because of a decline in resource condition (broadly consistent with studies undertaken elsewhere), the reduction in turnover would be almost $8 billion over the next 21 years; while a 10-20% increase in turbidity (expected change), could see water treatment costs increase by in excess of $32 million per annum by 2031. In addition, declining water quality poses potential risks to human health.

The social values alone could justify significant investments in waterway and Bay enhancement. Social values are estimated to be worth almost $4.9 billion over the period to 2031 (present value over $2.0 billion).

Look after our rivers and we will be looking after our bay, its wildlife and ourselves.

Looking after our rivers means we are looking after our bay, our seagrass meadows and the many species dependent upon seagrass. This not only makes good environmental sense but good business sense.

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