Hawkesbury Watch is a program unique to Australian estuaries and is receiving national and international interest. It was developed by Hornsby Shire Council’s environmental scientists who were trying to find an alternative and innovative way to sample water quality.
The system they developed uses remote monitoring buoys which collect real-time information on water conditions in the Hawkesbury River. The buoys are permanently moored in the estuary between Wisemans Ferry and Broken Bay collecting water quality data every 15 minutes. The six probes take a range of measurements, including temperature, salinity, chlorophyll-a and turbidity.
Residents can now be assured that outbreaks of algal bloom are notified more quickly. An algal bloom occurs when one particular type (species) of algae grows much more quickly than other species. This can cause discolouration of the water or a reduction in the levels of dissolved oxygen (which can cause fish kills). Some species of algae can also produce toxins that can be harmful to fish, birds and humans.
The community can access the data from the buoys through Council’s website, allowing residents, fishers and visitors to stay informed about swimming conditions and the general health of the waterway. You can view the information at http://www.hornsby.nsw.gov.au/hawkesburywatch.