Aquatic ecosystem monitoring, evaluation and reporting (AECRs)
The EPA monitors South Australian waters (creeks, rivers, marine) in order to assess their condition and provide information that can be used to guide management decisions.
Monitoring data are used to produce aquatic ecosystem condition reports (AECRs) every year. There are reports available for creeks, rivers and nearshore marine waters.
The AECRs are also used to inform both the State of the Environment (SOE) reporting and the South Australian Environmental Trend and Condition Report Cards published by the Department for Environment and Water (DEW).
The SOE reports focus on statewide trends and the Trend and Condition Report Cards on statewide and NRM region-wide conditions, while AECRs address individual ecosystems. The AECRs may show localised areas of good or poor condition that are not visible at the statewide level.
The EPA has released a context and overview report which outlines the main reasons why there is a need to assess aquatic ecosystems, review the equivalent approaches adopted elsewhere and propose a way forward which covers all natural waters in South Australia using the aquatic ecosystem monitoring, evaluation and reporting program.
The Report on subsurface groundwater ecosystems presents the EPA’s perspective and discusses possible policy implications and outlines an approach that will generate new knowledge about the ecosystem services that are provided by stygofauna and microbial communities in groundwaters in South Australia.
The latest AECRs are based on data collected from both marine and inland sites in 2018.
A total of 15 sites were sampled in both the Adelaide Mount Lofty Ranges (AMLR) and on Kangaroo Island. The condition of sites sampled repeatedly tended to remain the same or rate slightly worse over time.
For the AMLR the sites were selected to be representative of the larger ecosystem. However, when the results were further investigated it was found that although the ACER results show a higher percentage of sites rated better in 2018, the condition of most streams in has generally not changed from previous years.
For both regions, sites in poorer condition were those that were largely cleared, with very little riparian vegetation, some of which are further pressured by livestock having direct access to the watercourse. The NRM are partnering with the EPA to identify, prioritise and address pressures at key aquatic sites;
- investigating sources of nutrients
- managing livestock, introduced weeds and feral pest animals
- identifying the best areas to revegetate.
In all 32 monitoring sites were sampled over 2 marine biounits located in Northern Spencer Gulf. The condition of both biounits had declined since they were previously sampled in 2012.
A step down in condition for both biounits in the Northern Spencer Gulf is likely due to a range of factors rather than source pollution from one particular industry. Observations point to the cumulative impact of a range of industries along with the impacts from climate change, such as the observed warmer sea surface temperature, potentially being responsible for altering the condition of the system and the change over the 5 year monitoring period. The EPA is partners with Department for Environment and Water, PIRSA, SA Water, as well as regulating industry to reduce pressures on ecosysytems.
What are Aquatic Ecosystem Condition Reports?
AECRs provide a comprehensive picture of the ecological condition of sites sampled in creeks and lakes, and rate each site on a scale from Excellent through to Very Poor using an ecological condition gradient.
Check out what data is collected and how the sites are rated in the information sheet on EPA Aquatic Ecosystem Condition Reports
How often are AECRs released?
Reports are released annually presenting assessments of sites sampled previously.
What data or information is used to create a report?
A range of biological, chemical and physical information is recorded at each sampling site including nutrients, salinity, dissolved oxygen, water temperature, algal growth, macroinvertebrate data, aquatic vegetation coverage, riparian vegetation coverage and sediment type and condition. Further information on the data collected and how it is used is provided in the information sheet EPA Aquatic Ecosystem Condition Reports.
Do other states produce similar reports?
Report cards of a similar nature have been produced in other states as a means of assessing the ecological and water quality condition of waters in their regions. Queensland and Victoria have report cards assessing the ecological and water quality condition, and New South Wales has report cards based on water quality data only.
What do the different ratings mean?
The ratings provide information on the ecological condition of each site. Sites are rated on a scale between Excellent and Very Poor using an ecological condition gradient. These ratings are explained in more detail in the information sheet EPA Aquatic Ecosystem Condition Reports.
Can I download any raw data?
Water quality measurements, habitat data and a list of macroinvertebrates found at each site is available for downloading on this website and through WaterConnect.
Are there any technical reports that explain the scientific methods?
- Methods report for the inland waters ecosystems monitoring, evaluation and reporting program
- Methods report for the nearshore marine ecosystems monitoring, evaluation and reporting program – Addendum
- Information sheet defining reference condition for South Australian streams.
Where can I find definitions for some of the words used?
A glossary has been provided with explanations and definitions of the some of the more technical terminology.
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