Surface and Ground Water Ecosystems consist of surface and ground water quality, including salinity, wetlands, floodplains, and the riverine zone made up of stream bed and banks, riparian vegetation and aquatic biota. It also covers access to water, including the environmental water required to maintain surface and groundwater dependant ecosystems, social values of water including Indigenous and European cultural values, recreation and aesthetics, and the beneficial uses that people gain from water, including agricultural and industrial production, and drinking water.
The detection of pesticides (including insecticides, herbicides and defoliants) in surface water is of great concern to water managers and the community. The effects of long term, low dose exposure to pesticides on humans and the environment are largely unknown. Spray drift, vapour transport and runoff from agriculture, particularly cropping, are the main pathways for pesticide transport into river systems. Pesticide levels in the Namoi River have declined markedly in the last decade due to improved management, particularly in the irrigation industry.
Improvement in surface and ground water ecosystems requires a landscape level approach. The adoption of Best Management Practice (BMP), which encompasses all aspects of natural resource management, by all industries, is the key to improving water quality and the condition of the ecosystem. BMP, both in the riverine zone and the surrounding catchment area, should result in an improvement to groundcover, which will slow water movement, reduce flood-flow velocity and subsequent erosion and instream degradation.