Ross Burnett,
Ross Burnett, "Barkool" Emerald, Trevor Brownlie, "Mahmal" Theodore, John Merritt, Co-Chair Fitzroy Partnership for River Health and Senior Specialist - Environment & Water Peabody Energy, Michael Murray, General Manager Cotton Australia, Simon Green President of the Dawson Valley Cotton Growers Association and Nathan Johnston Executive Officer, Fitzroy Partnership for River Health discuss water quality at Theodore. Contributed

Focus on Theodore water

WATER quality was on the agenda for Theodore cotton growers this month as Fitzroy Partnership for River Health and Cotton Australia led a River Health Roadshow to discuss new agricultural use water quality reporting for surface waters across the Fitzroy Basin.

According to Fitzroy Partnership for River Health executive officer Nathan Johnston, cotton growers should be encouraged by the results of the new stock and cropping agricultural use reports, which awarded A-grades for the Lower and Upper Dawson catchments, and a B-grade to the Callide.

"A significant water quality dataset is compiled annually to prepare existing aquatic ecosystem health reports for surface waters and now these results have also been compared against cropping and stock thresholds to prepare reports for agriculture," Mr Johnston said.

"The report highlights that there is generally good water quality available for cropping use in the Dawson catchments, which contributes to the Fitzroy Basin's position as one of the most productive cropping centres in Australia," he said.

"In 2013-14, some stock and crop suitability issues for water were found in the Callide catchment downstream of the Mount Morgan mine.

"More generally throughout the Callide, there were suitability issues for crops sensitive to chloride, such as citrus, in 2013-14.

"Fortunately cotton has higher tolerances to salt and associated ions like chloride but irrigators may need to consider the sensitivity of crops they are using in rotation with their cotton crop.

"It is important to note that water quality varies considerably throughout the year, within a waterway and between waterways.

"For this reason, the reports provide a catchment scale overview only. Agricultural enterprises should undertake independent testing of their water to determine if it is suitable for their particular crop or type of stock.

Cotton Australia general manager and water manager Michael Murray commended the new reporting initiative and praised Trevor Brownlie of Mahmal, Theodore, whose 340ha irrigation operation was inspected as part of the River Health Roadshow.

"Cotton Australia is committed to working with growers towards best-practice standards and Trevor's property is clear evidence cotton growers are committed to ongoing improvement," Mr Murray said.

"Cotton Australia has a number of initiatives under way across the region, including its best-management practice program myBMP, which aims for continual improvement."

Mr Johnston said drought conditions, below average rainfall and reduced river flows had influenced the results for many catchments this year, including the Dawson and Callide catchments.

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