Pressures affecting inland water environments

Component
Summary
Grade
Very high impact High impact Low impact Very low impact
Confidence
In Grade In Trend
Comparability
To previous years

Australia had near-median rainfall in recent years; areas of WA and NT had above-average rainfall; areas of Qld, Vic, Tas, NSW, SA and WA had rainfall deficiencies

Average temperatures included the warmest, third warmest and fifth warmest years on record. Climate projections for Australia include increasing temperatures and numbers of hot days

Water storage started at a high level and decreased during the past 4 years.

Year(s): 
2016
2
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Somewhat adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Comparable

Widespread and unprecedented drought across southern Australia over the past decade or more has greatly affected inland water ecosystem condition. Flooding since 2009 has broken the drought in the south-east of the continent, but the drought continued (as of early 2011) in the south-west There is substantial scientific evidence of a component of change towards a drier climate across southern Australia and a warmer climate nationally. Drier landscapes have the potential for increased rates of sedimentation due to decreased vegetative cover, exacerbated by the potential for more frequent and intense storms

Year(s): 
2011
2
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Urban water use has increased; demand was met through addition of climate-resilient water sources and management of existing supplies, rather than dam building.

Agricultural water use, which can vary significantly each year because of water availability and management controls, has remained relatively steady. Small developments of dams and irrigation areas continue to increase pressure on resource development and effective management.

Year(s): 
2016
2
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Somewhat adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Comparable

Historical allocations of surface water and groundwater have changed the ecological character of many river and wetland systems across southern Australia; development pressures are generally much less in the northern half of the continent Recovery of water for increased environmental flows in the Murray–Darling and Snowy basins has reduced this pressure on some inland water ecosystems Most new water for Australian metropolitan areas will come from resources other than development of new inland resources—sources will include reuse and seawater desalination, improving run-off and recharge into existing infrastructures, and trading with existing users

Year(s): 
2011
2
Improving
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Land clearing continues at minor levels, except in Queensland. Adoption of best-management practice is improving run-off and nutrient load pressures

Moderate areas of bushfire activity occurred in temperate environments. Northern Australian tropical savannah and rangelands had generally typical levels of burning, with a peak in 2011

Impacts from farming are ongoing, with small decreases in farmed area each year

Year(s): 
2016
2
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Somewhat adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Comparable

For most of Australia, historical land clearing for dryland agriculture and locally intensive agricultural land uses continue to place river systems under pressure from nutrient run-off, sedimentation and salinisation The growth of the peri-urban fringe around major metropolitan areas places great pressure on local waterways and can involve the irreversible drainage of local wetlands Riparian degradation by livestock and feral pests is an ongoing impact

Year(s): 
2011
2
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Increasing areas of inland water systems are affected by vertebrate pests

Additional Weeds of National Significance are affecting mainland waterways

Year(s): 
2016
2
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Somewhat adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Comparable

Vertebrate pests continue to impact most inland water systems across the continent, through grazing-related impacts, direct ecological competition or as a hazard to native predators (as in the case of cane toads) Waterway and floodplain weed infestations are widespread but of variable local impact

Year(s): 
2011
2
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
Argent RM (2016). Inland water: Pressures affecting inland water environments. In: Australia state of the environment 2016, Australian Government Department of the Environment and Energy, Canberra, https://soe.environment.gov.au/assessment-summary/inland-water/pressures-affecting-inland-water-environments, DOI 10.4226/94/58b656cfc28d1