In the southwestern part of W.A. there are large regions where aquatic ecosystem health has been severely compromised. During 1999 and 2000, monitoring water quality in streams in this area was undertaken, looking particularly at the use of invertebrate community as indicators of the health status of the streams.
The region known as the ‘wheat belt/sheep belt’ is particularly hard hit, with rising water tables, owing to the history of deforestation.
Rising salinity levels are in places severely impacting agricultural yields, property values, and resulting in wide spread economic losses, and the demoralization of local communities.
A series of meetings was held with Government Agencies, Water Boards, and communities in various towns within the Wheat Belt. These meetings were attended by local public health officials, farmers, school teachers, and representatives of conservation organizations and environmental ministries.
The focus was on an ecosystem health approach to regaining the social and economic viability of the region.
These studies were carried out under the auspices of Edith Cowan University, with Dr. Rapport as a co-principal investigator. These studies led to establishing a successful multi-year research study on ways of restoring ecosystem health to the region, funded by the Australian Research Council.