Water quality and the reef

Improving water quality is the best way we can support the health of the Great Barrier Reef locally.

While climate change remains the biggest threat, improving the quality of water flowing from the land is critical to reducing pressure, ensuring a resilient Reef and supporting its recovery.

One of the most manageable impacts on the Reef is human-induced run-off of pollutants. For this reason, the Australian and Queensland governments are investing significant funds to reduce the run-off of sediment, nutrients and pesticides from catchments.

In response to mass coral bleaching events and the deteriorating outlook for the Reef, the governments recognised the need to accelerate priority actions to improve Reef health. The updated Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan (Reef 2050 Plan) and new Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan (Reef 2050 WQIP) aim to protect the Reef’s values.

While the main source of water pollution is agriculture, the Reef 2050 WQIP includes a diverse set of actions and recognises urban and industrial areas can create concentrated pollution that has important local impacts. It includes targets for improving water quality leaving the catchments to help prioritise actions.

Last reviewed
31 January 2019
Last updated
19 November 2018