In 2014, the NSW Land and Environment Court imposed penalties on Orica Australia for a number of polluting incidents at their Kooragang and Botany facilities in 2010–11. The monetary penalty was directed to fund projects aimed at restoring and enhancing the environment for the benefit of affected neighbouring communities. Part of the environmental service order was issued to the former Office of Environment and Heritage to fund the Lower Hunter River Health Monitoring Program, which included this water quality monitoring program.
The water quality monitoring program ran from August 2014 to March 2015 and included 14 sites in the lower, mid and upper Hunter River estuary. The program looked at nutrients and suspended solids, among other pollutants and indicators, in the Hunter River estuary. The results indicated that pollutants from intensive agricultural land use in the upper to middle catchment and inputs from heavily industrialised and urban areas in middle to lower catchment contributed to the degradation of water quality in the estuary.
- Lower Hunter River Health Monitoring Program: Project Summary Report
- Lower Hunter River Health Monitoring Program: Legacies of a century of industrial pollution and its impact on the current condition of the lower Hunter River estuary
- Lower Hunter River Health Monitoring Program: Stormwater Quality Monitoring Program 2015 report
- Preliminary Ecological Assessment of the Lower-to-Mid-Hunter River Estuary 2015–16
- Health of the Hunter: Hunter River estuary report card 2016.