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Insights from the 2023 Waterways Report Card: Urban Water Stewardship


For the second time since 2021, the Dry Tropics Partnership for Healthy Waters Report Card provides scores for Townsville City Council on its management of urban water.

Scores are based on an independent review against standards set in the Urban Water Stewardship Framework – a tool developed by the Queensland Department of Environment and Science (DES) as part of the Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan.

Stormwater runoff, sediment runoff from building sites, household sewage, and sewer pipe leaks are all examples of ‘urban water’ that can affect our local waterways, and ultimately, the Great Barrier Reef.

1. In 2023 Townsville City Council receives a ‘B: Achieving Best Practice’ score for its urban water management practices, an improvement since the last review, which in 2021 saw Council receive a ‘C: Achieving Current Minimum Standard’.

Improvements have been seen mostly in the management of ‘Developing Urban’ water — managing pollutants from construction and development.

In recent years Council has invested in subsidies for erosion and sediment control (ESC), and water sensitive urban design (WSUD) courses for builders and developers in our region, building knowledge and awareness in these areas.

2. In the management of ‘Established Urban’ water — managing pollutants in stormwater runoff from established urban areas — Council scores a ‘C’, showing room for improvement.

However, it receives a sub-category ‘A — Above Best Practice’ for collaboration with industry and community to develop better capacity to manage stormwater runoff.

“We’re seeing Townsville get much more water-aware at many levels and this Best Practice score for Council shows we are starting to match the standards of other water-smart cities,” says Kara-Mae Coulter-Atkins, Executive Officer for the Dry Tropics Partnership for Healthy Waters.

“Results show that Council has worked hard over the last three years to better educate and support developers to improve their water management, but they also show there is still work to be done in the ‘Established Urban’ space to see Council better managing runoff from established built areas and roads.

“Because the Urban Water Stewardship Framework assessment is an independently facilitated process, it also gives many individuals and teams from Council an opportunity to reflect on how their work and objectives may be interconnected by waterways, and to think about training, recruitment, strategy, funding, and daily operations from a joined-up ‘best practice’ perspective.”

“Understanding the effectiveness of urban water management practices, and how they may be improved or better supported, is essential for achieving healthier waterways.”

Learn more about the Urban Water Stewardship Framework

Download the 2023 Townsville Dry Tropics Waterways Report Card here.
Access the full Townsville Dry Tropics Urban Water Stewardship Report here.

2023 Report Card Home

2023 Insights: Urban Water Stewardship

2023 Insights: Litter

2023 Insights: Climate

2023 Insights: Habitat

2023 Insights: Water Quality