Waterway Health Report Cards publication released

The Australian Water Partnership has published , authored collaboratively by Griffith University’s International WaterCentre and the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science. In it, report card practitioner and water resources professional, Simon Costanzo, and marine ecologist, John Kirkwood, describe the important and collaborative process that is involved in making report cards.

To identify, communicate and improve the health of a waterway, the report card process involves gathering and comparing ecological, cultural and socio-economic information against predefined goals. The authors describe all the key elements of a report card and argue that their value and utility go beyond being simply summary documents: they also demonstrate the power of the collaborative and stakeholder-driven process involved in their development. A participatory approach is used to integrate and synthesise large amounts of information into simple quantifiable scores that can then be used to stimulate dialogue, form new partnerships, create jobs, foster research, support monitoring, inform management, and ultimately improve waterway health. Gill Whiting from the Murray-Darling Basin Authority advocates for them, saying, “the report card gives us a really good communication tool to ‘shine a light’ on areas that need management attention.”

It is intended that this AWP publication provide insight and guidance to countries in the Indo-Pacific region, and beyond, on how waterway health report cards can assist them in their journey towards the sustainable management of freshwater ecosystems. Importantly this publication also describes some of the lessons Australian practitioners have learned along the way regarding the challenges and barriers to reporting on healthy waterways, thus enabling others to more effectively and efficiently embark on initiating or improving their own reporting processes.

AWP officially launched this publication at the 23rd International Riversymposium virtually on 10 November 2020.

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