The boundary of the Wet Tropics region follows the edge of nine catchments. Each catchment collects and redirects water across the landscape through many thousands of waterways.
The dumping rains in the wet season race down the escarpment, keeping streams flowing, flooding low lying areas and draining into the Great Barrier Reef lagoon.
It is the exceptionally high rainfall that provides this region with its life and diversity; but the name ‘Wet Tropics’ can be deceiving.
One third of our region, the upper west rangelands, receives less than 800mm of rain a year. This vast area is just as important to the region as the wetter environments.
Good quality water is important for all living things. The precious forests and wetlands of the Wet Tropics region depend on good quality water, but are also an extremely important part of the water cycle for drinking, draining and filtering water. Without healthy natural ecosystems, we will no longer have healthy water.
A healthy environment = clean water and water connects places, processes and species.
Water is also cultural, with many rivers and streams having deep significance for the Traditional Owners of the region. They are ‘story waters’.
Wetlands are an important part of our landscape. WetlandInfo is a particularly good source of wetlands information for Queensland.
Our actions have a major impact on our water
Water supports people, agriculture, animals and plants and it is central to the health of the whole ecosystem. But in the Wet Tropics, it can be taken for granted and our lifestyles and livelihoods can have an enormous impact on the waterways.
A combination of urban development and modern agriculture has resulted in pollution being dispensed into many of our waterways. Drainage infrastructure in many catchments has changed the way the water flows.
These human actions affect how clean and clear the water is and also how alive the waterways are with plants and animals. Natural processes such as the recharging of underground water have also been modified.
It needs to be noted that many farmers in the Wet Tropics and other regions are doing a great job to make sure that their farming practices are the best they can be and have the least impact possible on the quality of the water flowing from their land.
The Wet Tropics Water Quality Improvement Plan is an important part of the regional response to the quality of water that flows to the Great Barrier Reef.
It provides a scientific basis for deciding where to focus effort in order to reduce water pollution (mainly sediment, fertiliser and pesticides) that is threatening the health of the Great Barrier Reef.
”There are really important places along rivers and creeks for us and clean healthy water is important to our mob for all fish. We have lots of stories about rivers and creeks on our Country. All this needs to be recognised and respected.” Aboriginal NRM Plan 2004