Farmers ‘gutted’ by reef damage claims

A MASSIVE surge of polluted water has spewed onto the Great Barrier Reef following heavy rains that hit north Queensland last week, environmentalists say.

WWF reef spokesman Nick Heath has called for tougher regulations on farm chemicals following the flow of polluted runoff.

“When big weather systems blow through the area, a lethal chemical cocktail of farm pesticides, nutrients and sediment gushes on to the reef from Queensland’s many rivers,” the WWF said.

The WWF estimated up to one million megalitres – enough polluted water to twice fill Sydney Harbour – entered the reef after a monsoon brought drenching rain to north Queensland.

Mr Heath said satellite imagery confirmed water flows travelled to mid-shelf reefs, causing algal blooms.

“If we are to give our iconic reef the best chance of withstanding climate change, we must ensure its water quality is as clean as possible,” Mr Heath said. “It is astounding what we are allowing to happen to the reef.”

Premier Anna Bligh last year flagged farming regulation and penalties after years of voluntary efforts to help save the reef had not worked.

The announcement was unpopular with farmers but Ms Bligh said the reef would die if nothing was done.

A recent study showed more than 6.5 million tonnes of sediment was discharged into the reef in 2007 – four times higher than estimated pre-European settlement levels.

It’s estimated the reef injects $6 billion into the tourism economy each year and provides about 65,000 jobs

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.