March 25, 2021
Las Vegas, N.M. – New Mexico Highlands University forestry professor Julie Tsatsaros’ publication on research that explores water quality improvement adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia received an Editor’s Choice Award from the scholarly journal, Water.
Tsatsaros is the lead author on the paper titled, Improving Water Quality in the Wet Tropics, Australia: A Conceptual Framework and Case Study, published in Water in November 2020. She worked on the research with scientists from Australia and the Czech Republic.
“The research shows how multiple stakeholders in rural watersheds can contribute to successful water quality management outcomes for freshwaters that drain to the Great Barrier Reef,” Tsatsaros said. “We integrated physical science and community involvement, especially from the Girringun Aboriginal Corporation. This organization assisted in all phases of a pilot water quality monitoring program and after the initial study, continued to monitor the water quality through its Indigenous Land and Sea Ranger program in partnership with local, state and federal agencies and organizations.”
The research for Tsatsaros’ Water publication is also the basis for an upcoming publication she is the lead author for titled, Supporting Community Led Water Quality Water Monitoring in River Basins Adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. The paper will be published in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin in May 2021.
“These journal publications help to better inform improved management of water quality in freshwater and marine environments,” Tsatsaros said. “Developing and implementing a community led and supported pilot water quality monitoring plan was critical and provided the evidence base for freshwater quality standards for a tropical basin adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef.”
Tsatsaros said the research framework is a case study that can be applied to both freshwaters and marine environments anywhere in the world, and collaboration was key to the success of the Australian Wet Tropics research.
“Collaborators included the Girringun Aboriginal Corporation, the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, the Centre for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Science, James Cook University in Australia, and the Czech University of Life Sciences Prague,” Tsatsaros said.
Tsatsaros said when water quality monitoring plans are endorsed by local communities, this can help reduce pollutants in freshwaters and marine environments by establishing local environmental values and water quality objectives.
“Knowledge exchange opportunities between western and indigenous peoples has been associated with the successful management of a variety of ecosystems in the United States and overseas. Culture is a powerful influence on people’s behavior and implementing solutions to water quality management always involves people,” Tsatsaros said.
Tsatsaros said long-term data collected across all seasons can be used to better refine potential pollutant sources in freshwater and marine ecosystems.
“In addition, long-term data can characterize current water quality conditions, indicate pollutant levels, identify water quality changes, and help protect and improve areas of spiritual and cultural significance,” Tsatsaros said.
Tsatsaros said our understanding of long-term water quality continues to develop rapidly across the globe.
“This knowledge is urgently needed to inform policy to protect and manage water resources, especially in the context of climate change and repeated freshwater and marine heat waves,” Tsatsaros said.