RRRD016 Developing integrated assessment metrics for reporting of water quality in the Great Barrier Reef lagoon


Project Leader

Vittorio Brando



go straight to the Publications From This Project

Project Overview

This project was a desktop study to develop integrated assessment metrics for the reporting of water quality in the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) lagoon. The Reef Water Quality Protection Plan and the Reef Rescue policy initiatives are designed to improve the status of water quality and ecosystem health in the GBR by 2013. Long-term monitoring of spatial and temporal trends in broad-scale water quality within the GBR is central to assessment of this policy objective. This monitoring has been carried out since 2005 through the Reef Rescue Marine Monitoring Program (MMP), as part of the Reef Plan Paddock to Reef program (P2R program).

The integrated assessment method developed as part of this project combines a selection of key indicators which enable reasonable evaluation of the overall status of coastal and marine waters in the GBR. The proposed metrics are closely aligned with other assessments and reporting frameworks that have been developed nationally. In addition, international approaches to ecological assessment techniques will be explored.

This Project Will Deliver

  • A review of other assessment frameworks for combining environmental parameters and their approaches and method.
  • Development of a marine water quality index, which will form the basis for the reporting of marine water quality in the P2R program Report Card.

PROGRESS UPDATES for this project are summarised here

Study Areas

The marine water quality data covers the entire Great Barrier Reef, and a more detailed case study to test the approach is included in the marine areas adjacent to the Tully-Murray basins in the Wet Tropics region.

Associated Reef Rescue R&D Research


Related External Research

Paddock to Reef Program
  • Paddock to Reef Report Card indices and MMP reporting.
  • MMP complementary programs (assessment of inshore corals and seagrasses).
  • Links to GBR exposure and risk mapping.
Other projects
  • Better understanding of WQ data – link to receiving water models (eReefs).
  • IMOS & TERN Australian Coastal Ecosystem Facility - potential uptake of uncertainty measures.

Publications From This Project

The Research Outcomes Report for RRRD016 can be downloaded from Final Report page. This report should be cited as:
Brando, V.E., Devlin, M.J., Dobbie, M., MacNeil, A., Schaffelke, B. and Schroeder, T. (2014). Developing integrated assessment metrics for reporting of water quality in the Great Barrier Reef lagoon. Report to the Reef Rescue Water Quality Research & Development Program. Reef and Rainforest Research Centre Limited, Cairns (53pp.).

The project results have been summarised at several Reef Rescue R&D forums, visit the Events page.

Relevant Publications

Álvarez-Romero, J.G., Devlin, M., Teixeira da Silva, E., Petus, C., Ban, N.C., Pressey, R.L., Kool, J., Roberts, J.J., Cerdeira- Estrada, S., Wenger, A.S., Brodie, J., 2013. A novel approach to model exposure of coastal-marine ecosystems to riverine flood plumes based on remote sensing techniques. Journal of Environmental Management 119, 194-207.

Schaffelke, B., Carleton, J., Costello, P., Davidson, J., Doyle, J., Furnas, M., Gunn, K., Skuza, M., Wright, M., Zagorskis, I. 2012. Reef Rescue Marine Monitoring Program. Final Report of AIMS Activities 2010/11– Inshore Water Quality Monitoring. Report for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. Australian Institute of Marine Science, Townsville (97 p.)

Schroeder, T., Devlin, M.J. Brando, V.E. Dekker, A.G. Brodie, J.E. Clementson, L.A. and McKinna, L. 2012. Inter-annual variability of wet season freshwater plume extent into the Great Barrier Reef lagoon based on satellite coastal ocean colour observations. Marine Pollution Bulletin 65(4–9): 210-223.