What is the UWSF and why is it needed?

The Urban Water Stewardship Framework is a method for grouping urban water management activities and assessing how well the activities are being undertaken against an agreed set of management objectives. The development of the Urban Water Stewardship Framework is led by the Office of the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland Department of Environment and Science, with the goal of encouraging good urban water management practices and improving water quality outcomes.

The Urban Water Stewardship Framework is important as it allows us to assess the effectiveness of the management of land use and the treatment of sewage and stormwater in urban areas within the Great Barrier Reef catchments. It also identifies areas in which management practices can improve.

To see the published results of the 2019-2020 Urban Water Stewardship Framework, see the Management Response Report: Working Together for Healthier Waterways.

The Urban Water Stewardship Framework is part of the Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan and rates the effectiveness of urban water quality management practices. Stormwater, sewage treatment, development and community stewardship are graded on a scale from A to D, similar to that of the Report Card. The management practices associated with these are compiled into three major categories:

  • Point source (A single localised point (such as a drain) where pollutants, such as litter and nutrients, are discharged)
  • Developing urban (Pollutants from diffuse or widespread sources entering waterways when developing new urban areas. This typically includes excess sediment and nutrients)
  • Established urban (Pollutants from diffuse or widespread sources entering waterways due to man-made changes to the environment and the removal of native vegetation).

Townsville City Council’s management successes (A- B grades) include:

  • 100% of biosolids from sewage treatment plants are recycled, including from Magnetic Island.
  • Council collaborates with a wide range of organisations and contributes to world-leading research on sewage discharge in the receiving environment.
  • Citizen Science monitoring programs and community groups are championed.
  • Litter reduction is a priority with numerous projects and campaigns underway.

Areas with room for improvement (C-D grades) include:

  • Improve the operation and maintenance of sewage and stormwater infrastructure to help improve water quality in the receiving environment.
  • Improve erosion and sediment control compliance in new urban developments to minimise sediment inputs into waterways.
  • Improve collaboration within Council and with other land users to provide better whole of catchment solutions.

How are management practices assessed?

  • Experts from Townsville City Council, the Department of Environmental Science, and the Urban Development Institute of Australia evaluate management practices.
  • Scores for each question are developed based on a group consensus.
  • The workshop will be conducted every two years.
  • Townsville is one of five regions in the Great Barrier Reef undergoing the same assessment process.
  • This year, the major focus was on Townsville City Council Operations; however, this scope will be widened in future assessments.

How often does the workshop occur?

The workshop will occur every two years. So far, Townsville has undergone two assessments.

Pilot assessment November 2019 Results reported in the 2020 “Achieving Healthy Waterways” flyer (below) First comprehensive assessment February 2021 Results reported in the Management Response Report “Working Together for Healthier Waterways” (link) Next assessment November 2022 - February 2023 Results to be reported in the 2022-2023 Management Response Report

Follow the progress of the Urban Water Management Practice and Stewardship Framework on

THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND OFFICE OF THE GREAT BARRIER REEF CORAL SYSTEM

Urban Water Stewardship Framework

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