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Introducing Richard Shaw...

Name: Richard Shaw
Education: Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Science (Honours)
Current Occupation: Master of Environmental Planning student, and Water Quality Monitoring Officer.
Where: School of Geography & Environmental Studies (University of Tasmania) and Greening Australia

Richard grew up in Launceston and attended Kings Meadows High and Launceston College. From an early age Richard demonstrated an interest in science, especially zoology which led him to study a Bachelor of Science majoring in zoology at the University of Tasmania.

“My parents tell me that from a very young age I was always looking under rocks, crawling through the bush, catching bugs and chasing animals.”


After Richard completed his degree he travelled overseas for six months and then came home and did Honours in Zoology in one year. His honours project involved investigating the environmental correlates of roadkill.

“I like the fact that science is driven by the desire to know how and why things happen”.

He then worked as a tour guide at Cradle Mountain and then as a wildlife keeper at Bonorong Wildlife Park, before deciding to return to university and complete his masters in Environmental Planning.

Richard attended an Australian River Assessment System training and accreditation course, which helped him secure a position as a water quality monitoring officer at Greening Australia.

“I love my job and the people I work with, and only now can I look back at my five years of uni and all the hard work put in and feel that it’s all been worthwhile.

Richard is responsible for educating school groups about the importance of water quality as well as the facilitation and coordination of the Waterwatch community.

Find out more about Richard's work

Key words: Healthy Waterways, Waterwatch, Catchment, Phyiscal, chemical and biological monitoring, Water Quality.

“The mission of Waterwatch is to foster participation by all Tasmanians in the care of our waterways through community monitoring and education and by linking with relevant local and global programs”

Waterwatch Tasmania is part of the nationwide Waterwatch network that was established in 1993. Waterwatch is a network of trained co-coordinators that brings people together to monitor, restore and protect Australia's waterways for current and future generations.

Waterwatch provides planning, facilitation, communication, monitoring, quality control, data management and evaluation of projects.

Waterwatch also provides practical training workshops for individuals, schools and community groups in techniques of physical, chemical and biological monitoring.

A major focus of Waterwatch is community and school education and a range of education programs and activities are available to enhance awareness and understanding of the need for healthy waterways, e.g. catchment tours and surveys, and development of educational resources for schools. Waterwatch also helps in the design water quality monitoring plans with the community and schools appropriate to their resources and the water issues.

Monitoring is a way of beginning to know our waterways, finding out how healthy they are and learning to appreciate them. Monitoring can be as simple as a visual survey or as complex as collecting and analysing numerous water samples to a high level of accuracy and precision. Common indicators of waterway health include the condition of the stream side vegetation, presence of faecal bacteria, concentration of nutrients, type of water bugs present, and levels of turbidity (muddy water), salinity and dissolved oxygen.

How, what, when and where you decide to monitor depends on the issues affecting your waterway and your reasons for gathering the information.

Monitoring is essential for understanding the impacts of our activities, both good and bad, and for making good management decisions. It also promotes a sense of stewardship of the environment and community involvement in actions to protect and restore our waterways.

Simple Classroom Activity

Determining river health through use of macro-invertebrates:

A system known as SIGNAL 2 (Stream Invertebrate Grade Number – Average Level 1). It is a simple scoring system that uses macro invertebrates as the basis for determining river health. A SIGNAL score gives an indication of water quality in the river from which the sample was collected, this in turn can be used to determine anecdotally the health of the surrounding environment. Rivers with high SIGNAL scores are likely to have low levels of salinity, turbidity and nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus – and are likely to be high in dissolved oxygen = healthy river.


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