Trends in water quality in a subtropical Australian river-estuary system: Responses to damming, climate variability and wastewater discharges

Thumbnail Image
File version
Accepted Manuscript (AM)
Eccles, Rohan
Zhang, Hong
Hamilton, David
Maxwell, Paul
Griffith University Author(s)
Primary Supervisor
Other Supervisors
File type(s)

The Logan-Albert estuary in southeast Queensland, Australia, has high biodiversity and supports multiple economic and recreational services. Elevated nutrient and sediment loads have been a longstanding management issue for the estuary. We investigated the spatial and seasonal patterns of nutrients and turbidity along the Logan-Albert estuary and assessed the effects of a recently constructed upstream dam. Nutrient concentrations and turbidity levels were analysed using 15 years of monitoring data from 19 water quality sites throughout the estuary. We hypothesised that the construction of Wyaralong Dam would act as a nutrient and sediment sink which may have positive effects on downstream water quality. Long-term trends of water quality constituents were evaluated using a non-parametric seasonal Mann-Kendall test and the effect of upstream impoundment was assessed with a Before-After Control-Impact (BACI) test. Nutrient concentrations and turbidity levels declined significantly with time in the upper Logan estuary and, to a lesser extent, in the lower Albert estuary. The general improvement of water quality in the upper Logan estuary was attributed to construction of the Wyaralong Dam. Significant decreases in concentrations of total phosphorus (TP) and oxidised nitrogen (NOx-N) along the lower Albert were principally attributed to wetter conditions over the 15-year dataset, which diluted point-source loads from a nearby wastewater treatment plant (WWTP). Our results show that estuarine water quality changes can be highly dynamic with interactions amongst climate and management practices that necessitate long-term monitoring programs with good spatial coverage.

Journal Title
Journal of Environmental Management
Conference Title
Book Title
Thesis Type
Degree Program
Publisher link
Patent number
Grant identifier(s)
Rights Statement
© 2020 Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, providing that the work is properly cited.
Rights Statement
Item Access Status
Access the data
Related item(s)
Environmental sciences
Environmental management
Physical oceanography
Science & Technology
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
Persistent link to this record
Eccles, R; Zhang, H; Hamilton, D; Maxwell, P, Trends in water quality in a subtropical Australian river-estuary system: Responses to damming, climate variability and wastewater discharges, Journal of Environmental Management, 2020, 269