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State of the Rivers

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Developer

Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries

Latest documentation

2005

Designed for use in

Queensland, Australia

Ongoing

No

Assessment purpose

Prioritisation, Processes and components, Values

Assessment criteria

Socio-cultural, Physical and chemical, Flora

Method type

Field, desktop

Timescale

Rapid-short term – Two teams of two could survey a moderate sized catchment e.g. Mary River in 3-4 weeks. Rapid sampling - 3/4 to 1 hour per site in the field.

Scale

Landscape/Catchment, Site/habitat

Wetland system

Riverine

Description and method logic

Method purpose

The State of the Rivers Survey was developed in Queensland, in response to a need for detailed information on the physical and environmental condition of streams and rivers. This information would then be available for use in the Integrated Catchment Management process.

The State of the Rivers Survey provides a 'snapshot' of the physical and environmental condition of streams and is not designed to establish the trend or rate of change of stream condition.

Summary

The State of the Rivers methodology provides a comprehensive method for assessing the current ecological and physical condition of rivers and streams. It uses a snapshot survey technique based on the notion of homogenous streams sections. The streams and rivers are successively divided into smaller and smaller sections until homogeneity is reached in terms of scale, natural features and condition. Finalising the boundaries and number of homogenous sections is an iterative process.

There are nine criteria headings based on 11 datasheets (some datasheets only contain positioning information).

Method logic

The field survey collects in-steam data on a number of components using rapid survey methods. Each component is assessed independently and given an objective condition rating. These ratings are combined to give an overall condition rating. A relative, rather than an absolute standard has been used to fix the benchmark condition used to derive the ratings. The condition rating assesses the extent to which the condition of the survey component has deteriorated from the local benchmark. Different standards may be used in different catchments.

The parameters recorded for each component are stored in linked databases. This allows data analysis and processing for follow-up work and investigations.

The State of the Rivers Survey was designed to 'estimate the ecological condition of rivers in terms of the condition of the instream habitat, rather than by conducting flora or faunal surveys'. The Survey primarily makes a detailed assessment of components that describe the physical condition of streams, such as channel habitat, bed condition, bank condition, cross-sectional dimension and riparian vegetation as habitat attributes of general importance to the biota are encompassed by these components are recognised. Many of the variables measured in the State of the Rivers Survey correspond with those measured in AusRivAS, River Habitat Survey (RHS) and Habitat Predictive Modelling. Empirical links between biota and habitat that are encompassed within other methods, may be represented by the variables collected in the State of the Rivers Survey.

Criteria groupings of the method

The method assesses ecological condition in terms of in-stream habitat rather than by conducting flora or fauna surveys and takes a 'snapshot' of the current condition of homogenous stream sections. Indicators are grouped into 9 Criteria (hydrology, bank condition, bed and bar condition, channel habitats, cross section, reach environs, vegetation, aquatic habitat and scenic, recreational and conservation values)

Data required

Eleven datasheets are used during the survey for each site covering subsection data (hydrology, bank condition, bed and bar condition, channel habitats, cross section, reach environs, vegetation, aquatic habitat and scenic, recreational and conservation values).

Resources required

Expertise required

This methodology requires survey teams trained in using the method in field, assessment and database management.

Materials required

1:25,000 and 1:100,000 maps, four-wheel drive, boat, survey equipment, GPS, camera, datasheets, vegetation keys, photo archive, database and GIS. Some desk based data collection also required.

Method outputs

Outputs

  • A State of the Rivers report which describes the ecological and physical condition of streams in a catchment.
  • A database of survey information and site photographs.

Uses

  • To assess the effects of past activities.
  • To identify the extent and possible causes of stream degradation.
  • Establish priorities within and between catchments.
  • Benchmark for long term monitoring.
  • State of Environment reports.

Criteria by category

    Physical and chemical

    • Aquatic habitat
      • Bank overhang
      • Canopy cover
      • Instream debris cover
      • Man-made overhang
      • Overall site rating for aquatic life
      • Root overhang
      • Vegetation overhang
    • Bank condition
      • Artificial bank protection measures
      • Bank shape
      • Bank slope
      • Bank stability
      • Factors affecting stability
      • Levee banks
      • Overall bank condition
    • Bed and bar condition
      • Bar size
      • Bar type and distribution
      • Bed compaction
      • Controls on stabilising the bed
      • Factors affecting stability
      • Gravel angularity and shape
      • Gravel surface characteristics
      • Overall bed stability
      • Passage for fish and other organisms
    • Channel habitat
      • Channel habitat types
      • Reach lengths
    • Cross section
      • Bank dimensions
      • Bank sediments
      • Depth
      • Water velocity
      • Bed sediments
    • Hydrology
      • General local condition
      • Instream water quality measurements
      • Time since last runoff
      • Water flow
    • Reach environs
      • Channel pattern
      • Floodplain features
      • Local disturbance
      • Local land tenure
      • Local land use
      • Local vegetation types
      • Overall disturbance rating
      • Water level

    Socio-cultural

    • Scenic, recreational and conservation values
      • Initial conservation value assessment
      • Recreational opportunity type
      • Scenic value assessment
      • Suitable recreational types

    Flora

    • River vegetation
      • Aquatic vegetation - floating and submerged
      • Emergent aquatic vegetation
      • Exotic species in riparian zone
      • Local species
      • Vegetation cover plant types
      • Width of riparian zone

Review

Recommended user

Government officers, catchment group members, NRM officers.

Strengths

  • Applicable throughout Queensland
  • Easily understood by users with varying backgrounds, experience and qualifications
  • Flexible, more sites can be surveyed in problem areas
  • Stand-alone but can interface with other databases and types of data.
  • Comprehensive coverage of stream sections within a catchment
  • Assessment of at many levels - whole catchment, individual sections or individual tributaries, using data components individually or together
  • Use of homogeneous stream sections allows extrapolation from the sampling scale to larger areas
  • Physical measurements indirectly represent geomorphological processes
  • Some empirical links between the parameters measured and stream biota (e.g. substratum, riparian vegetation)

Limitations

  • Doesn't include water quality
  • Does not in itself directly measure the rate of change or the trend
  • High level of expertise needed.
  • Comparisons to reference condition are subjective
  • Links between some measured parameters (e.g. bank condition, bar shape) and biota are not well established
  • Links between structure and process are weak

Case studies

Anderson, JR (1993), State of the Rivers Maroochy River and Tributary Streams. [online], Department of Primary Industries, Brisbane.. Available at: https://wetlandinfo.des.qld.gov.au/resources/static/pdf/assessment-toolbox/maroochy_1993_com.pdf.

VAN MANEN, N (2004), State of the rivers: Baffle Creek and major tributaries : an ecological and physical assessment of the condition of streams in the Baffle Creek catchment., Dept. of Natural Resources and Mines., Indooroopilly, Qld.

VAN MANEN, N (2002), Albert sub-basin water resource plan: state of the rivers report to TAP., Department of Resources and Mines, Brisbane, Qld..

JOHNSON, DP (2005), State of the rivers: Bowen, Broken and Bogie Rivers and major tributaries : an ecological and physical assessment of the condition of streams in the Bowen, Broken and Bogie Rivers catchments : report., Dept. of Natural Resources and Mines, Natural Resource Sciences., Indooroopilly, Qld..

MOLLER, G (2001), State of the rivers Cooper Creek and major tributaries., Dept. of Natural Resources and Mines., Brisbane, Qld.

VAN MANEN, N (2005), State of the rivers: Fitzroy and Isaac Rivers and the Capricorn coastal tributaries : an ecological and physical assessment of the condition of streams in the Fitzroy River, Isaac River and Capricorn coastal catchments., Dept. of Natural Resources and Mines, Natural Resource Sciences., Indooroopilly, Qld.

VAN MANEN, N (2001), State of the rivers: Maronoa, Balonne and Lower Condamine rivers and major tributaries : an ecological and physical assessment of the condition of streams in the Maronoa, Balonne and Lower Condamine River catchments., Dept. of Natural Resources and Mines, Natural Resource Sciences., Indooroopilly, Qld..

EBERHARD, R & VAN MANEN, N (1998), Pumicestone region subcatchments: an ecological and physical assessment of the condition of streams in the Pumicestone Region., Dept. of Natural Resources and Mines., Brisbane, Queensland..

Links


References

  1. Anderson, JR (1993), State of the Rivers Maroochy River and Tributary Streams. [online], Department of Primary Industries, Brisbane.. Available at: https://wetlandinfo.des.qld.gov.au/resources/static/pdf/assessment-toolbox/maroochy_1993_com.pdf.
  2. Anderson, JR (1993), State of the Rivers Project. Report 1. Development and Validation of the Methodology. ., Department of Primary Industries, Queensland.
  3. Anderson, JR (1993), State of the Rivers Project. Report 2. Implementation Manual., Department of Primary Industries, Queensland.

Last updated: 7 February 2019

This page should be cited as:

Department of Environment and Science, Queensland (2019) State of the Rivers, WetlandInfo website, accessed 13 May 2021. Available at: https://wetlandinfo.des.qld.gov.au/wetlands/resources/tools/assessment-search-tool/state-of-the-rivers/

Queensland Government
WetlandInfo   —   Department of Environment and Science