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Coastal Eutrophication Risk Assessment Tool

CERAT is used to better understand and predict the relationship between land use in catchments and its impact on estuaries and coastal lakes, such as Lake Illawarra.
CERAT is used to better understand and predict the relationship between land use in catchments and its impact on estuaries and coastal lakes, such as Lake Illawarra.

Photo by OEH.
 OEH scientists have developed a risk assessment tool to help identify and prioritise land use planning decisions to protect and preserve the health of estuaries in NSW. The tool is called Coastal Eutrophication Risk Assessment Tool or CERAT.

CERAT consists of:

  • a water quality database
  • contextual spatial information for the catchment or estuary
  • a coupled series of catchment and estuary models for the main (184) estuaries in NSW.

The models can be used by non-technical users and are built from readily available and/or routinely collected monitoring data and information.

The catchment models provide estimates of the amounts of nutrients and sediments exported from land-based activities, such as urban development, deforestation and agriculture. The estuary models assess the potential impact of these exports on the water quality, micro-algal biomass and seagrass abundance in the estuary.

The outputs from the models can be used to identify estuaries which are most vulnerable to impacts from land use change in catchments and, therefore, at most risk to eutrophication. They provide a systematic and scientific basis for prioritising resources for monitoring and mitigating pollutant exports from the catchment.

CERAT is available on the OzCoasts website.

The work was funded by the Natural Heritage Trust, the National Action Plan for Salinity & Water Quality and OEH.

More information

Page last updated: 30 October 2012