River Health Assessment

River health refers to the ability of a river ecosystem to support and maintain a balanced, integrated and adaptive community of organisms and a habitat that resembles the natural state.  The primary aim of a river health monitoring program is to provide information on the ecological condition, trends and functioning of a river system in order to guide river management decisions and actions.  It is commonly used to assess the impact/s of discharges, inputs or land management practices and actions on the aquatic ecosystem and river health.

River health is measured using a range of indicators of environmental disturbance from the healthy state, usually relative to a benchmark or reference condition.  This can include assessing river health against standard indices (i.e. key families and SIGNAL) or undertaking full Rapid Biological Assessments (RBA).

The components of a good river health monitoring program cover the physical, chemical and ecological processes and but usually include assessing:

  • Catchment processes such as land use and riparian condition
  • Instream processes such as stream bed structure, hydrology and geomorphology
  • Water quality such as chemistry, algae, pathogens and contaminants
  • Aquatic biota, namely macroinvertebrates

Aquatica Environmental has a significant amount


  • Development and implementation of river health monitoring programs
  • Rapid Biological Assessment (RBA)
  • Australian Rivers Assessment System (AUSRIVAS)
  • Index of Stream/Wetland Condition (ISC/IWC) assessments
  • Identification of management and mitigation solutions to river health issues and impacts
  • Peer and technical review
  • River health monitoring induction, training and education programs


  • ISC and AUSRIVAS assessment of waterways for bulk entitlement impact monitoring.
  • Development and implementation of water quality, river health and ecological impact monitoring program for WWPT discharges to the Goulburn River at Eildon, Alexandra and Shepparton, Victoria.
  • Monitoring of water quality and macroinvertebrate communities to assessment the effectiveness of a constructed water treatment wetland on a horse stud on the Mornington Peninsular, Victoria
  • Aquatic ecology due diligence and targeted fish surveys, preparation and submission of EPBC Act Referral, FFG and Fisheries Act Permits and referral/permit actions implementation (i.e. translocation of threatened species) for the development of anew bulk water storage facility in Apollo Bay, Vic
  • Assessing the impacts mining operations, including water quality and macroinvertebrates community structure and ecotoxicology, in Madang province, Papua New Guinea.
  • Baseline monitoring of aquatic values, including water quality and macroinvertebrates, for a proposed rail project, in Moura, Qld.
  • Post Black Saturday bushfire WatherWatch river health monitoring of Arthur’s Creek catchment near Strathewan, Victoria.
Sorting macroinvertebrates, Moura Qld