Regional Programs

Regional Programs

A total of $138.1 million has been committed to a series of regional water quality programs that will directly reduce nitrogen, sediment and pesticide loads from priority Reef catchments. These programs will focus on proven, on-ground measures for improving water quality, including through catchment restoration and improved land management practices.

#Priorities for investment

The priority catchments under the 10 regional programs, as well as the level of investment, were selected based on the priorities set out in the Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan, together with a detailed technical assessment prepared by Alluvium Consulting to determine where investments would have the greatest impact. More information on the prioritisation process is available below in the Alluvium 2019 Investment Pathways Report.

#End of Partnership targets

Reduction of 456 tonnes of dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) entering the Reef

Reduction of 462 kilotonnes of fine sediments entering the Reef

Reduction of 250 kilograms of pesticides entering the Reef

#Implementing the programs

Target pollution load reductions have been set for each catchment, and regional programs and associated projects are being implemented to achieve these targets and deliver better water quality for the Reef. Projects being funded under the regional program primarily involve:

  • Practice change: such working with farmers and graziers to improve management practices related to stock management, nutrients, pesticides, and irrigation. These projects aim to reduce pollution runoff while improving farm productivity and profitability
  • Landscape remediation: this includes restoring gullies and streambanks, such as through earthworks and revegetation, to reduce erosion and the amount of fine sediment impacting the Reef.

However, all options for improving water quality are being considered, provided they can be shown to be effective and efficient.

Projects are being selected through open, competitive processes, based on their cost-effectiveness, to ensure the programs achieve the greatest water quality improvement with the available funding.

For each regional program, the deliver model has been tailored to the local situation. For a number of the programs, a regional program manager and/or regional partnership coordinator has been appointed to oversee implementation and maximise the value of the program. These roles are typically filled by local organisations, with strong regional networks and the capacity to bring partners together while also monitoring progress on the ground.

#Tracking progress to targets

All projects are required to report progress to the Paddock to Reef integrated Monitoring, Modelling and Reporting Program. This will provide transparency and accountability on how projects, and the programs as a whole, are performing.

#What happens next?

The majority of the 10 regional programs having now commenced. Selection of on ground projects is still on going in the last of the programs to start – those in the Russell-Mulgrave and Tully Johnstone catchments.  

Under the Bowen Broken Bogie Water Quality Program, to date only a limited portion of the available funding has been released. A further open process for the releasing the remaining funds is expected to commence in the first half of 2021.


#Active programs

Regional water quality programs with projects currently underway.

Upper Herbert Water Quality Program

Upper Herbert Water Quality Program

Preventing 4,082 tonnes of fine sediments entering the Reef's waters each year

Image Credit: Project Catalyst

Lower Herbert Water Quality Program

Preventing 140 tonnes of dissolved inorganic nitrogen from entering the Reef each year.

Upper and East Burdekin Water Quality program

Upper and East Burdekin Water Quality program

Preventing 49,000 tonnes of fine sediment from entering the Reef's waters each year

Lower Burdekin Water Quality Program

Lower Burdekin Water Quality Program

Preventing 48 tonnes of dissolved inorganic nitrogen and 35 kg of pesticides from entering the Reef's waters every year

Bowen, Broken, Bogie Water Quality Program

Bowen, Broken, Bogie Water Quality Program

Preventing 105,100 tonnes of fine sediment entering the Reef every year.

Mackay Whitsunday Water Quality Program

Mackay Whitsunday Water Quality Program

Preventing at least 26 tonnes of dissolved inorganic nitrogen and 215 kilograms of pesticides from entering the Reef’s waters every year.

Fitzroy Water Quality Program

Fitzroy Water Quality Program

Preventing 50,000 tonnes of fine sediment from the Fitzroy River basin from entering the Reef’s waters every year.

Mary River Water Quality Program

Mary River Water Quality Program

Reducing the amount of fine sediment from the Mary River that enters the Reef by 26,000 tonnes per year.

Mulgrave Russell Regional Water Quality Program

Mulgrave Russell Regional Water Quality Program

Preventing 72 tonnes of DIN from entering the Reef’s waters every year.

Tully Johnstone Regional Water Quality Program

Tully Johnstone Regional Water Quality Program

Preventing 170 tonnes of DIN from entering the Reef’s waters every year.