The idyllic Hardy Inlet is a recreational and tourism draw-card for the town of Augusta, with fishing and boating popular past times. Migratory and resident waterbirds also extensively use the open water and fringing habitats. The estuary has one of largest catchment areas in the south-west corner of Western Australia, receiving freshwater flow from both the Blackwood and the Scott Rivers.
While the condition of the lower estuary remains generally good, poor conditions prevail around Molloy Island and in sections of the Blackwood River. These conditions are primarily the result of high nutrient loads from the surrounding land use, which has intensified over the past decade.
Community concern regarding the inlet’s health has been growing. Algal blooms and fish deaths now occur more regularly. Of particular concern are the very low oxygen concentrations of water in the lower Blackwood River between Molloy Island and Alexander Bridge. These suggest a whole-of-system decline from organic loading.
$2 million will be spent to understand and improve condition of the Hardy Inlet and its catchments during the Regional Estuaries Initiative. This funding will be supported by co-investments from regional catchment groups, local governments and industry partners.
For Hardy Inlet, the Regional Estuaries Initiative will:
- Support the Lower Blackwood Land Conservation District Committee in the joint delivery of on-ground action and long term management strategies to care for the Hardy Inlet
- Reduce nutrients exported from dairy sheds by providing technical and financial support to upgrade priority dairy effluent systems through the DairyCare program in partnership with Western Dairy
- Reduce nutrient runoff from grazing farmland by subsidising soil testing, soil nutrient mapping and agronomic advice
- Work with local groups to restore stream function, move stock away from waterways and improve water quality by implementing river action plans
- Support local groups in replanting the foreshore around the Hardy Inlet
- Fund increased monitoring and modelling of Hardy Inlet and its catchments to support evidence-based management in the future.