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Townsville turns it on to tackle trash

Where are Townsville’s waterway litter hotspots? Thanks to the hundreds of heroes who turn out to pick up rubbish and count it, the trashiest sites are now easier to spot.

The 2023 Townsville Dry Tropics Waterways Report Card reveals the state of our local creeks, rivers, and coastal waters — and even allocates grades for the litter pressure select sites are under.

21 official sites were monitored for litter pressure in this year’s Report Card, and results reveal areas for future clean-up focus.

A sample of results shows levels of litter pressure across our town

A — VERY LOW: Rowes Bay, Anderson Park, Shelly Cove at Pallarenda, Nelly Bay
B — LOW: Aplin’s Weir Rotary Park, Apex Park in Condon, Sherriff Park in Mundingburra + others
C — MODERATE: Ross Creek
D — HIGH: Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Horseshoe Bay

Who are the legends that collect trash every year at these sites? Who sorts it, counts it, weighs it, and submits all the data for scientific analysis so that a fair scoring system can be applied all over the Queensland coast?

Enter our partners, the Tangaroa Blue Foundation and ReefClean — plus a host of local volunteers who attend clean-up events through the year.

“There’s a groundswell of people in our town who make this litter collection and monitoring possible,” says our Executive Officer, Kara-Mae Coulter-Atkins. “And while not all Townsville waterways are yet included in this monitoring, the data gives us a head start on tackling a wicked problem”.

“Litter in our waterways is a cumulative evil. From daily bags of dog poo to illegally dumped domestic and industrial waste, it accumulates and travels like everything in our waterways system.”

The data used to calculate the litter grades comes from Tangaroa Blue Foundation’s Australian Marine Debris Initiative Database and is collected by volunteers and partners through the ReefClean program, funded through the Australian Government’s Reef Trust.

Since 2019, Tangaroa Blue has cleaned up more than 97.5 tonnes of marine debris in 1,162 clean-up events along the Great Barrier Reef through ReefClean.

The community events attract first-time try-it-out volunteers, chronic cleaner-uppers who patrol our coasts every morning, families, businesses, boaties, reef-lovers, and Rotarians with their snags.

Get amongst it!

This month the Tangaroa Blue Foundation and ReefClean are launching into their annual Great Barrier Reef Clean-up, hosting and helping community self-host clean-ups all along the Reef coastline.

“We would not be able to achieve the incredible goals that we do without local Townsville and Dry Tropics volunteers on the ground getting the work done, year after year,” says Mathilde Gordon, Project Manager for the Tangaroa Blue Foundation. “We really hope and believe that this October we can crack the 100-tonne mark!”

21 October: Great Barrier Reef Clean-up, Fairfield Lakes, Townsville
22 October: Great Barrier Reef Clean-up, Nelly Bay, Magnetic Island
22 October: Great Barrier Reef Clean-up, Ross River Pontoon, Townsville
29 October: Great Barrier Reef Clean-up, Ross River, Townsville

Learn more about local litter results in the 2023 Townsville Dry Tropics Waterways Report Card, and see the 2023 Technical Report for the science nitty gritty.

For more examples of how the fight against waterway litter is gaining traction in Townsville, see our Champions of the Bohle story about local legends, TIDY Up Townsville. While the Bohle River is not yet a formal data-collection site for litter in our Waterways Report Card, we hope to see it there in future. Grades for the Bohle are currently available for water quality, habitat and hydrology, and fish.