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Monitoring surface water quality enables us to better understand and protect the aquatic ecosystem. Water quality can be assessed by measuring both the physiochemical and biological characteristics of our waterways.
(Source: Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment.)
The ecological condition of our surface water resources can be assessed by measuring the presence, diversity and abundance of macroinvertebrates (insects, snails and worms) in different stretches of river. The presence or absence of these aquatic macroinvertebrates tells us a lot about the condition of our waterways.
By sampling aquatic macroinvertebrates from relatively undisturbed rivers, researchers can find out the range of species that should be present in undisturbed and unpolluted river habitats.
According to the National Land and Water Resources Audit 2001, some 20% of Tasmania's assessed sites (23% of Australia's) were significantly impaired and had lost 20-50% of macroinvertebrates expected to be present. A further 3% (6% for Australia) were severely impaired (had lost 50-80% of expected macroinvertebrates) and 2% (the same as for Australia as a whole) were extremely impaired (had lost more than 80% of expected macroinvertebrates).