TRaCK: Tropical Rivers and Coastal Knowledge

Science and knowledge that governments, communities, industries for sustainable use of Australia's tropical rivers and estuaries

Survey of Daly River catchment residents checks out water use development options

Survey of Daly River catchment residents checks out water use development options

Release date

21 Apr 2012


By completing a survey of household spending and water use delivered by the mail this week, people who live in and around the Daly River Catchment will ultimately be able to find out what types of services will have the biggest impact on income, employment and water demand in their region.

Researchers with the Tropical Rivers and Coastal Knowledge (TRaCK) program are distributing the survey randomly to 1000 households in the Daly region this week to discover how people spend their money in the community and what impacts this has on local water use.

‘We want to eventually let residents know what types of spending do not ‘abuse’ available water supplies and are also good for regional economic development’, says Dr Natalie Stoeckl from James Cook University.  

Dr Stoeckl says changes in one part of a community can have unintended impacts on other parts of that community.

‘For example, a new tourist might spend an extra $100 in the local shop, but their impact doesn’t stop there. The local shop owner might buy new stock from Sydney or purchase fruit and vegetables from a local producer — or celebrate their good fortune with a beer at the local pub. The local producer and the publican may never see the tourist but this tourist affects their livelihood.’

Unintended impacts from changes in the community can also affect water use in a region.

‘When new tourists come to town they obviously take showers but it isn’t just this water they are consuming. If they buy fruit and vegetables we need to factor in the water coming out of the region to supply their food.’

The team wants to learn more about these unexpected side effects, so they can work out how the demand for water and local incomes are likely to change as populations change.

The TRaCK team already knows something about the way rural/remote businesses spend their money, but they know very little about the way households in the Daly River Catchment spend their money or about how much water they use.  

‘Most of the information available relates to people who live in large cities, which is why we are sending out so many questionnaires to households in the region,’ says Dr Stoeckl.  

The survey takes approximately ten minutes to complete and requests basic demographic information from household members, such as age and occupation — and information on their weekly household spending and water use.

The results of this survey, which will be available in early 2010, will help other projects in the TRaCK program to predict the future impacts of long-term development in the regions.

‘We’ve got researchers looking at future scenarios for regions that are more agriculturally focussed or tourism focussed. We can look at what would happen with income, employment and water demand for the regions under these scenarios.’

Drawing together more than 70 of Australia’s leading social, cultural, environmental and economic researchers, TRaCK focusses on Australia’s tropical rivers and estuaries in Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory with a degree of intensity, coordination and integration not previously seen in the region.

TRaCK receives major funding for its research through the Australian Government’s Commonwealth Environment Research Facilities Initiative; the Australian Government’s Raising National Water Standards Programme; Land and Water Australia and the Queensland Government’s Smart State Innovation Fund.

For interview: Dr Natalie Stoeckl, 07 4781 4868, 0414 783979,    
Media assistance: Jenni Metcalfe, Econnect Communication, 0408 551 866,