Hon Dave Kelly BA MLA

Hon Dave Kelly BA MLA

Minister for Water; Forestry; Youth

    New report to inform future management of Leschenault Estuary

    23/02/2022 10:00 AM
    • New report gives insight into the condition and health of the Leschenault Estuary
    • Report shows Leschenault Estuary basin is healthy and seagrass showing signs of recovery over the past decade
    • Partnerships with industry, farmers and Leschenault Catchment Council are working to reduce nutrients entering the estuary

    A new report on the health of the Leschenault Estuary was released today by Water Minister Dave Kelly.


    Leschenault Estuary is also known as Derbal Elaap in Wadandi Noongar language and is located just north of Bunbury. The estuary covers an overall area of 27 square kilometres and is connected to the Indian Ocean by an artificially constructed permanent, 180 metre-wide opening known as 'the cut'.


    The Leschenault Estuary (Derbal Elaap) Condition of the Estuary 2016-19 report focuses on the main drivers of estuary health, the status of water quality indictors and key habitats such as the estuary seagrass beds.


    The report confirms the estuary basin is in good condition, with seagrass showing signs of recovery over the past 10 years. However, the report revealed poorer health in the lower portions of the Collie and Brunswick rivers, with high nutrient levels from farming activities being the likely cause.


    Reduced rainfall as a result of climate change has contributed to reductions in freshwater inflows and increased water temperatures, exacerbating the effects of nutrient and organic matter discharges into the estuary.


    The report also recommends a number of ways to improve management of the estuary's health by reducing nutrients entering waterways and removing nutrients once they have entered, and continuing to build on the scientific understanding of the catchment and estuary to help inform future management decisions.


    The McGowan Government is committed to protecting the Leschenault Estuary, which supports a wide range of economic and recreational activities, as well as important natural habitats.


    Through the Healthy Estuaries WA program, the McGowan Government has invested $25 million in funding to help protect seven at-risk estuaries, including Leschenault Estuary, in the State's South-West. Healthy Estuaries WA funding will help deliver the recommended improvements to the management of Leschenault Estuary.


    Through the Healthy Estuaries WA program, the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation are partnering with farmers, industry, the Leschenault Catchment Council and the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development to deliver important on-the-ground actions that protect and improve the health of the estuary.


    Comments attributed to Water Minister Dave Kelly:


    "Since 1970, the Leschenault Estuary region has seen a 25 per cent decrease in rainfall due to climate change resulting in reduced freshwater inflows to streams, rivers and ultimately the estuary.


    "The report allows us to better understand the impacts of climate change and human activity on the estuary system and what is needed to support the estuary and its ongoing management.


    "The report's findings will inform the work being done to improve stream function, reduce nutrients entering the estuary, and monitor the estuary and its catchments.


    "Through partnerships between the State Government, farmers, industry and the Leschenault Catchment Council, the Healthy Estuaries WA program will continue to help us protect this much loved estuary." 


    Comments attributed to Bunbury MLA Don Punch:


    "The Leschenault Estuary has always been really important to the people of Bunbury.


    "It is important we understand the estuary and protect its wellbeing to make sure it is accessible for generations into the future.


    "I welcome this report as a vital tool to help us look after one of our most significant waterways."


    Comments attributed to Collie-Preston MLA Jodie Hanns:


    "The Leschenault Estuary is an important ecological and community asset which needs to be managed sustainably.


    "This report identifies the opportunity for government, farmers and industry to work collaboratively with the Leschenault Catchment Council to improve the health of the estuary.


    "Combined with recent news of funding for the restoration of the Australind Jetty, I look forward to protecting the estuarine environment for future generations whilst ensuring residents and tourists can continue to enjoy the unique beauty of our local waterways."


    Comments attributed to Murray-Wellington MLA Robyn Clarke:


    "When I speak to locals in the region, many tell me of their memories and activities involving the Leschenault Estuary, from boating, fishing, crabbing and just enjoying the scenic view - it shows how important the estuary is to the community surrounding it.


    "This report that has come out regarding the health of the estuary and the recommendations to improve it, will be welcome news to the South-West community.


    "I am proud to be a part of a McGowan Government that knows the importance of protecting and investing in our waterways." 


    Minister's office - 6552 6100