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Molonglo Catchment Health indicators Program

Water quality information for the catchment is available from numerous sources for some sites, however collection methods are not uniform.  The Molonglo Catchment Group (MCG) recognises that establishing ‘baseline measurements’ to assess sub-catchment health goes far beyond just collecting and analysing water quality data.  The MCG is committed to developing a catchment health monitoring program that will assist to monitor the effectiveness of the Molonglo Catchment Strategy.

The Molonglo Catchment Health Indicators Program (M-CHIP) utilises and builds on existing data sources and community based resource assessment techniques, to enable informed decisions and a framework for future catchment health monitoring.  Assessing sub-catchment (and ultimately whole catchment) health in this manner:

  •  helps to educate the community on catchment processes;

  •  facilitates targeted investment on a catchment scale;

  •  raises awareness of water related NRM issues; and

  •  greatly improves the link between information gathering, analysis and on-ground application.

M-CHIP methodology

The M-CHIP has been designed to ensure that output data is consistent with regionally focused monitoring programs to facilitate data sharing with State/Territory and regional programs.  M-CHIP draws data from 13 existing and 23 newly established water quality monitoring sites within the catchment.

The program integrates continuous water quality data, annual macro-invertebrate survey results and a once off desk-top ‘GIS’ audit of the catchment’s natural features.

 The results, data and assessments are fed in to a model to gauge a level of sub-catchment health (See diagram below).  Results are used to produce a series of Sub-catchment Health maps which are used to benchmark catchment health and (coupled with assessment of performance indicators) monitor the overall effectiveness of the MCS.

Program aims

  1. To enable the Molonglo Catchment Group to recognise significant short-term pollution events and identify the causes or sources of pollution, so that the appropriate authority may be notified in a timely manner.  Pollutants of particular relevance are those associated with:

    •  stormwater runoff and erosion;

    •  general litter and dumping of rubbish; and

    •  accidental spills or improper disposal of toxic substances.

  2. Monitor and evaluate the impact of projects undertaken by the Group and its members.

  3. Identify currently degraded areas and long-term degradation in the Molonglo Catchment, with respect to:

    •  ecological issues;

    •  catchment and stream health; and

    •  public health and amenity issues.


  1. To provide a measure of biological health of the stream, at key sites in the Molonglo Catchment, by monitoring:

    •  Macro-invertebrates;

    •  Frog watch; and

    •  Riparian Vegetation Surveys.

  2. Collect baseline data at the bottom of Sub-catchment sites throughout the Molonglo Catchment to establish sediment and salinity exports for:

    •  pH;

    •  Electrical Conductivity (Salinity);

    •  Turbidity; and

    •  Presence and type of rubbish.

  3. To provide turbidity measurements during Storm Events at key sites in the Molonglo Catchment.

  4. To provide baseline data at key sites in the Molonglo Catchment by monitoring:

    •  Dissolved Oxygen

    •  Orthophosphates

  5. To provide supporting data at 24 sites throughout the Molonglo Catchment by monitoring:

    •  Presence and type of algae;

    •  Water temperature;

    •  Water level;

    •  Water flow;

    •  Weather; and

    •  Rainfall.

Monitoring outcomes

The M-CHIP will assist the catchment group to assess:

  1. What impact(s) has catchment group activities had on:

    •  physical - chemical water quality, particularly dissolved oxygen and turbidity?

    •  biodiversity - macro-invertebrates?

    •  habitat?

  2. Where are the major sources of sediment in the catchment?

  3. Where are the major sources of litter in the catchment?

  4. Which areas in the catchment are most in need of weeding / erosion control / revegetation efforts?

  5. How effective are the on-ground works of the Molonglo Catchment Group and member groups?

M-CHiP Methodology Diagram

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Last modified: 27/03/2014