4 T Consultants4 T Consultants

By Ian Rankine

Interactive Data Reports, Office Closure, and our wish that you have a safe and happy Christmas break.

Apologies … 
 Wow.  I’ve just realised that we haven’t written a post for quite some time!
No excuse – the whole team has just been very busy, but that’s not an excuse to stay silent! So what have we been doing that’s kept us away from posting?

  • Recruited two new team members – Anthony and Julie – who are getting up to speed
  • Started working with six new clients on varied projects
  • Progressed in developing our new interactive dashboards for reporting (see below)
  • Finished constructing our new canopies and trailer to make fieldwork easier and more efficient
  • Installed new monitoring stations in preparation for the wet season
  • Conducted three surface water quality training courses
  • Undertaken another large spray drift investigation (unfortunately)
  • 4T Director Bronwyn has completed and launched her new book Small Company, Big Business, and organised a conference for the Queensland Rural, Regional and Remote Women’s Network
We are also very happy to report that 4T Consultants was a finalist in two categories at the Central Highlands Development Corporation Business Awards in October, and a winner in one category.

Interactive Scientific Reports

4T implements new data visualisations

Everyone who has a mobile phone or computer knows that there are new apps and software available on an almost daily basis.  So much so that it’s hard to keep up sometimes.  A lot of it isn’t relevant to us, but some of these advances are proving truly useful.

4T is continually on the lookout for simple, robust tools that will help our clients to better use their data and we’ve been working with a new one we’ve found that allows us to easily create interactive data visualisations

This new reporting feature allows clients to view historic data via creative visual charts, tables, graphs and many more presentation formats that can be customised to each specific EA or client requirement.

Making better decisions
But simply creating pretty charts is not the object of this exercise.

The aim is to improve our ability to turn Data into Information, Knowledge and Wisdom, so we can make better decisions.

Being able to drill down in to data and easily make comparisons means that data sets become much more than a set of numbers that you need for compliance.

 

A collection of Groundwater bores with results from the previous 5 years
Interactive dashboards allow you to rapidly select different time periods

 

Interactive Data is the way of future

This approach to data visualisation protects the source data, while giving clients the ability to produce the reports that they require to make informed decisions.

If you are interested in learning more about this style of reports, please contact 4T Consultants directly.

Is it that time already?

Where did the year go?  

The whole 4T team would like to thank our clients, suppliers, and professional associates for another wonderful year – the year in which we celebrated 20 years of business.

To our new clients – thanks for choosing our team, and entrusting your work programs to us. To our continuing clients – thanks once again for your continued support.  Some of you have been with us for the entire 20 years of our business journey or very close to it, for which we are grateful.

So, after a very busy 2017, we are looking forward to enjoying a brief break over the Christmas period.

Ian has reached a milestone birthday this year and will be celebrating this Boxing Day by relaxing (is that possible?) on a yacht in the middle of Sydney Harbour for the start of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht race.

Bronwyn will be sitting with her feet up, champagne or wine in hand, cheering from the peace and quiet of the hotel balcony!

The remainder of the team will be spending some well-deserved time with family and friends.

We hope you have a wonderful time with family and friends.  Stay safe, and we look forward to starting afresh in 2018.

OFFICE CLOSED
DEC 22nd 2017 – JAN 1st 2018
For the first time in 20 years, 4T is actually going to be closing the office over the Christmas break.  
 

Our reminder to spread some Christmas love to local heroes …

Even though our rescued joey Peter Roo is now healthy and leading the life of a grown-up red kangaroo, the work of the CH Wildlife Carer Group continues, and they still need your support.

To support the CH Wildlife Carer Group financially, with your time or other resources, please contact them directly:

24/7 hotline:   0475 288 301
Email:             chwildlifecarers@gmail.com
Facebook:      https://www.facebook.com/centralhighlandswildlifecarers 

By Ian Rankine

Today is World Water Monitoring Day

What is World Water Monitoring Day?

Everyone knows that water is an absolute essential for life*.

In this country, by far the majority of us are able to access clean, fresh water whenever we need, simply by turning on a tap.  But that is most certainly not the case for the majority of people on earth.  In 2003, the Clean Water Foundation in America established the first World Water Monitoring Day.

Water Monitoring Day was established to encourage and educate people on how to monitor the components of the water in their local area. Water pollution is a serious problem, and learning how to identify, take care of, and prevent it is more important with every passing year.

Associated with World Water Monitoring Day is the World Water Monitoring Challenge (now called the EarthEcho Water Challenge). The Challenge encourages people across the world to:

  1. Test their water to find out the state of the water quality in your home or area
  2. Share the data, photos and stories in an online, worldwide database
  3. Protect your local water supplies, now that you know the state of your water supply, and how it compares with others around the world.

For 20 years, 4T has been doing our bit – testing and monitoring the surface water and groundwater of Queensland. Consequently, we’ve built up a pretty good database of water quality and its changes over time.  Other organisations, such as the Fitzroy Basin Association, have also contributed immensely to our knowledge of the water ecosystems in Central Queensland.

What can you do to help?

On World Water Monitoring Day, stop for a moment and consider what small things you could do in your everyday life to help protect our water.  It is so easy for those of us in developed economies to take it for granted, but we need to remember – always – that water is a finite resource.

Here’s some ideas to get you started.

If you’ve got some ideas to share, post your photos and stories on social media using @MonitorWater #MonitorWater.

 

*Water has been detected on Saturn’s moon Enceladus, and to avoid the possibility of contaminating any potential life, the spacecraft Cassini was directed into Saturn’s atmosphere to burn up.

By Ian Rankine

June 2017 News

Surface Water Course – Enroll Now!

4T will be running our certified Surface Water Course on 1st August 2017, in Emerald.

This course is an accredited unit in the Certificate III in Water Quality Monitoring Course.

The course is suitable for students of environmental studies, landholders and employees/contractors to the resources and agriculture industries.  If you or your employees are taking water samples for compliance purposes, this course will satisfy the requirement that persons undertaking sampling must be “appropriately qualified”.

If you are interested in participating, please contact our office for pricing and enrollment forms.

Phone:  07 49824100      Email:   admin@4t.com.au


Fitzroy Basin gets a pass mark

For the third year running, the Fitzroy Partnership for River Health Report Card has give the Basin a Grade of B (Good) for river condition in 2015-2016.

Even better news was that for the first time, no catchments were graded ‘Poor’ in  the ‘Toxicants’ category.

CQUniversity Research Fellow Dr Nicole Flint commented that ‘Ecology’ category data is a critical omission.  Ecology data is only available for four of the 11 freshwater catchments.

“Increasing and expanding the range of data available for habitat indicators such as riparian condition, and biological indicators such as macroinvertebrates and fish, is a high priority,” Dr Flint says. “While biological indicators can be relatively expensive to monitor, they provide a more comprehensive picture of the river condition than can be determined from water quality sampling alone.”

Having been monitoring throughout the entire Fitzroy Basin for 20 years, we couldn’t agree more. Ecological monitoring can be expensive, but not as expensive as the consequences of not having the correct data to inform planning decisions.


Get ready for a new planning system

Speaking of planning, the Qld Government’s new planning system came into force on July 3.  The new system will hopefully enable genuine community engagement in the planning system, and stronger provisions for development decision makers.

One of the aims of the new planning systems is to allow for greater community input into planning decisions.

“Development must not come at the expense of community participation and engagement, so new measures have been introduced to provide greater transparency and certainty for Queenslanders.”

You can learn about the planning system via the online learning hub.


CH Wildlife Carer Group

Even though our rescued joey Peter Roo is now healthy and leading the life of a grown-up red kangaroo, the work of the CH Wildlife Carer Group continues, and they still need your support.

To support the CH Wildlife Carer Group financially, with your time or other resources, please contact them directly:

24/7 hotline:  0475 288 301

Email:             chwildlifecarers@gmail.com
Facebook:      Central Highlands Wildlife Carers
Website:         chwc.org.au

By Ian Rankine

4T turns 20

On May 27th 2017. 4T Consultants officially turned 20!.  Our fledgling company started operations from a table in the corner of the dining room, with a single computer and a laptop.  Computer cords, papers etc. had to be put up and away from the two children so they didn’t pull everything apart, or decorate a report with colouring in pencils and markers.

How it all started

For those of you who don’t know the history of 4T, the company was started when Directors Ian Rankine and Bronwyn Reid returned to Australia after years spent wandering the planet and working.  4T’s first contract was with an international agribusiness organisation, writing a series of books on Best Management Practices in plantation agriculture.

More sustainability projects

Following the completion of that project, we embarked on a series of research projects in partnership with the Federal and State Governments, and industry.  Again, the theme of  the research, and the projects that grew out of them, was sustainability.  Then, as the mining boom started to get going, 4T was engaged by mining companies to help them meet their environmental requirements and solve environmental issues.

The central theme of our 20 years in business has been to good science.  Our mission is to help our clients obtain economic production from our natural resources, be that agricultural produce, water, coal, gas or even urban developments, with the least environmental impact that we can manage. Our work has included developing several training courses that help spread the adoption of best management practices.

We recognise that, in order to exist on this planet, we have to make use of our natural resources, but that we also have to share them with the coming generations.  Providing accurate, reliable, and replicable data is critical to making good decisions, and that has always been our commitment to our clients.  If planning and production decisions are made using unreliable data, the effects can last for a very long time and be extremely expensive.

Over 20 years, there have obviously been some changes in our team.  As a small company, we have always been a close-knit team, and we remain close friends with many former employees.  Friday afternoons often find a former employee or two dropping in for a chat and a beer.  Christina and Pat, two of our very first employees, still work for 4T.

And now for the next 20 years….

We’ve survived 20 years of ups and downs, with both the resources industry and agribusiness experiencing booms and busts. We’ve also seen the commitment of governments to natural resource management ebb and flow.

2017 will see the original books on Best Management Practices re-launched.  They have been completely updated and are due off the printing press sometime in the next few months. We think that will be a fitting way to celebrate 20 years in business.

 

By Ian Rankine

Wow – Where did that time go? An update on blue green algae treatment.

It’s been quite a while since we posted something here – didn’t realise how fast the time went!  We’re happy to report that 4T has been very busy lately,  so blog posting slipped down the job list a bit.

Back in March, we wrote a post “Solving pollution with more pollution”, which introduced a new way to treat algal blooms from our colleague Dr Simon Tannock. Simon contacted us again just recently to share the results of the latest Queensland trials of Diatomix with Council and Utility clients.  To say that the results have been spectacular is an understatement.

If you are interested in seeing the full presentation that Simon has shared with us, it can be downloaded here.

Download the Diatomix Trial Results Presentation

Ian Rankine

18th October 2016

By Ian Rankine

Surface Water Quality Training – August 17th

Decisions made on water samples can have very long-term consequences

As a result of requests, we are holding another Surface Water Quality Training Course in Emerald on Wednesday August 17th.

If you are undergoing or expecting a DEHP audit, this course is what you need.  The course is an accredited unit in the Certificate III Water Quality Monitoring Course and satisfies the DEHP “Appropriately Qualified” requirement.

The one day course objectives are:

  • to help people to understand the importance of water quality, and how we measure and assess quality
  • to ensure that every sample taken is accurate, reliable and repeatable.

Decisions made on water samples can have long-term and expensive consequences

We know that the water quality sampling that we, and our trainees, perform is used for making important and expensive planning and management decisions.

Decisions that can have very long-term effects on our water ecosystems.

So it’s important that sampling techniques are correct, and that people taking samples understand exactly why they are doing so.

Limited places are still available, so phone the 4T Office on 07 49824100 or email admin@4t.com.au

 Download the Course Brochure here

By Ian Rankine

Surface Water Quality Training Workshops – Good decisions need good data

It’s been a busy week for Ian, Christina and Jeanie, with two surface water quality training workshops in two days – one in Emerald and one in Theodore.

Having Christina and Jeanie present was a bit like “getting the old band back together again”, as it was Christina and Jeanie who delivered the very first surface water quality workshops way back in 2005.

The course has undergone some changes over the subsequent 11 years, but it still has the same purpose:

  • to help people to understand the importance of water quality, and how we measure and assess quality
  • to ensure that every sample taken is accurate, reliable and repeatable.

Decisions made on water samples can have very long-term consequences

We know that the water quality sampling that we, and our trainees, perform is used for making important and expensive planning and management decisions.

Decisions that can have very long-term effects on our water ecosystems.

So it’s important that sampling techniques are correct, and that people taking samples understand exactly why they are doing so.

A mixed group of students

The attendees were a mixed group, with landholders, mine and industrial site enviros, council employees and private industry represented.

We even had two trainees who travelled all the way from Innisfail to attend.  Hopefully they will take their new knowledge back to North Queensland and apply it to water monitoring in their own area.

Thanks to Fitzroy Basin Association (FBA), Central Highlands Regional Resources Use Planning Cooperative (CHRRUP) and the Dawson Catchment Coordinating Association (DCCA) for their support and hosting these workshops.

Thanks also to the Australian Agricultural College Emerald Campus for allowing us to use their training room.

Many of the trainees have requested additional training in specific areas, so we’ll have to get busy designing some additional courses over the next few months.

 

 

By Ian Rankine

Reef Guardian Schools – get involved.

The team at 4T have always been active in the local schools, and the Central Highlands Science Centre, helping to get kids interested in science at an early age.

One program that does an excellent job at this is the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s Reef Guardian Schools Program.

The program draws school students, their teachers,  communities and environmental organisations together, helping all to understand and appreciate our magnificent Great Barrier Reef, and how we can all help to protect it for the future.

GBRMPA holds a series of networking events for schools up and down the Queensland coast each year.

This year, the networking is being extended to Emerald, and we will be participating by presenting a short segment on how we can judge waterway health by looking at the macroinvertebrates – bugs and insects – in the water.

If you would like to learn more about our great national treasure, and how absolutely everybody can make a contribution to preserving it for the kids in the Reef Guardian Schools, come along and join us.

Tuesday 17th May 2016

 Registration and afternoon tea from 4:00 to 4:30pm

  • Reef Guardian Schools community networking from 4:30 – 5:30pm

 Where:  CQUniversity Emerald Campus, Capricorn Hwy Room 1/1.20 

 RSVP: Friday 6th May (any food allergies) to Holly Lambert, 07 4921 4055 or holly.lambert@gbrmpa.gov.au

 

 

By Ian Rankine

Treating pollution with more ‘pollution’

Solving pollution with more ‘pollution’

Pollution /pəˈluːʃ(ə)n/ – noun

“The introduction of contaminants into the natural environment that cause adverse change.  Pollution is often classed as point source or non-point source pollution”.

A couple of years ago we were introduced by a mutual friend to Simon Tannock PhD. Simon is a self-confessed nerd whose Masters thesis was on algae – specifically diatoms.  But he’s a great guy who really knows his stuff, and has spent his professional career solving scientific problems. 

Diatoms are a type of algae. They have transparent cell walls made of silica, and they do photosynthesise. If you feel you want to brush up on you Diatom knowledge, follow this link for some more information

Simon is now using his extensive knowledge of algae to bring a new product to the Australian market that is proving to be extremely effective in dealing with water pollution from algal blooms.

We know that this is a problem that creates significant costs and some sleepless nights for many of our clients – in agriculture, government and mining. We’ve seen problems such as:

  • Toxic cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) blooms that will harm or kill humans and animals
  • Algal growth in storages which block and damage equipment that cost lots of $$$ to maintain and repair
  • Algal blooms that prevent access to waterways and recreation areas.

4T likes to bring news of new techniques and products to our clients, so we asked Simon for permission to reproduce a post that he recently wrote about this new product.  

Luckily, Simon agreed, and his post is reproduced below.
 

Diatoms are photosynthesising algae, they have a siliceous skeleton (frustule) and are found in almost every aquatic environment including fresh and marine waters, soils, in fact almost anywhere moist.Source:  University College London
 
Simon’s article…
Pollution is a problem we are all familiar with. As the definition above outlines, pollution can be point source (for example, the person on the train, sharing their phone conversation with the whole carriage) or non-point source (a common one is eutrophication of a river, caused by many land-holders, causing algal blooms and sometimes fish-kills).  One is easier to fix than the other!Every summer there are many stories about rivers and lakes that are closed due to a toxic algal bloom.  The biggest impact on our lives is when drinking water storages are affected.  Less dangerous to our health, but with big impacts to our collective pockets, are the closures of recreational areas.  In Australia there are some names that get mentioned more often than others with this problem: Lake TuggeranongLake Burley GriffinTorrens LakeBorumba Dam, and the list goes on across Australia, New Zealand and throughout the world.  Businesses in these communities lose valuable tourist dollars and local foot traffic when these lakes and dams become a hazard, they can be an unpleasant sight and have an awful smell.  You can’t fish, you can’t swim and you could get sick, there have also been reports of dog deaths.These issues are most often caused in the beginning by pollution.  Many authorities say these blooms are natural phenomena, but without the phosphorus and nitrogen in the water, from non-point source pollution, the algae and blue-green algae would have little to grow on (nerd fact check – blue-green algae are actually cyanobacteria).  It seems non-point source pollution is too hard to control and stop as it has been happening for decades and to date no viable solution has been utilised.

So is more ‘pollution’ the answer?

From the definition at the top, pollution causes adverse change.  This is why my suggestion is ‘pollution’.  By this I mean the introduction of something new, but that is not really a contaminant and it does not come with the adverse effects.

When algae grow they need a mix of macro-nutrients, like nitrogen and phosphorus, as well as a proportional amount of micro-nutrients, e.g. iron, magnesium, copper, manganese and some others. When nitrogen and phosphorus enter rivers and lakes at polluting levels, they very rarely come along  with the right proportion of micro-nutrients. This proportion is called the Redfield ratio, and when it is wrong then the natural balance is skewed and only some algae or cyanobacteria can still grow well and this is when the problems start. 

Of course, if you are going to add micro-nutrients you really want to be able to target only the good algae.  You don’t want the toxic algae getting the micronutrients so they can bloom even more! Bad, bad idea.  But there are some algae, ones called diatoms, which are at the base of the food chain.  When diatoms grow well they get eaten by the millions of microscopic animals in the water.  And then those animals get eaten by larger animals (fish) which in turn get eaten by larger predators (birds etc).  So the nitrogen and phosphorus in the water becomes diatoms, and then zooplankton, and then small fish, then big fish, birds and eels.

Just the good guys grow

At NualgiEnviro we have been using our solution with some of the big Australian Utility companies, and prawn farmers.  We have boosted diatom growth, made the water clearer and millions of ‘water insects’ eat the diatoms and zooplankton as fast as they can.  We have also seen really large reductions in the concentration of blue-green algae, the cyanobacteria. We add the micronutrients to the water, but with some clever nano-technology on our side, we make sure that only diatom algae get the benefit of our micro-nutrients. The diatoms can now outgrow other algae; they can now use more nitrogen and phosphorus and leave the problem algae without a food source. 

Is reducing or solving the problem worth it? It depends: How much does the community lose? How many hours of fishing, boating and swimming are lost? How do you put a dollar value on that? How many tourist dollars are lost when a tourist attraction, like the Borumba Dam closes over Australia Day weekend? Or any other weekend? How many dollars do businesses lose when the local residents don’t come to the waterside cafes for breakfast and coffee?  The costs to the local community can’t easily be accounted for but they are real.  History shows us that that the solutions on offer are simply not working. 

By correcting the imbalance of too much pollution, with a little ‘pollution’ and then letting nature do what it does best seems to me to be a great path forward.  Converting nitrogen and phosphorus in our waterways into fish and birds and turtles is a great outcome. Tourists pay to see healthy water and wonderful wildlife in our National Parks.  Creating healthy water and attracting tourists into our communities is an outcome worth our while.

By Ian Rankine

Getting to Know Your Groundwater – Update

We’ve made some changes to the upcoming series of  Getting To Know Your Groundwater Workshops, so check the schedule below to make sure you have the latest information:

1.  Two additional workshops have now been added to the schedule:

April 8th          Clermont

April 10th        Rolleston

2.  Change of venue – the Middlemount Workshop on March 8th has been changed to Dysart.  

The full Getting To Know Your Groundwater Workshop schedule now is:

  • March 1st     Taroom  (Joint workshop with AgForce)    Bookings:  Andrea Beard 46273859 andrea.beard@dcca.net.au
  • March 2nd   Injune    (Joint workshop with AgForce)    Bookings:  Andrea Beard 46273859 andrea.beard@dcca.net.au
  • March 8th    Dysart                                                                 Bookings:  Marina Wall 04328 985440 or 49857511  mwall@capcatchments.org.au
  • March 10th  Rockhampton                                                   Bookings:  Marina Wall 04328 985440 or 49857511  mwall@capcatchments.org.au
  • April 8th      Clermont                                                           Bookings:  CHRRUP 49822996  admin@chrrup.org.au
  • April 15th     Rolleston                                                           Bookings:  CHRRUP 49822996  admin@chrrup.org.au

 

Please make your booking at least a week before the event.  We’re providing morning tea and lunch, so you don’t want to miss out on the food.

Download the Taroom and Injune Workshop Brochure

Download the Dysart, Clermont and Rolleston Workshop Brochure

Download the Rockhampton Brochure

Groundwater is one of Australia’s most precious, but least understood, natural resources.  21% of the water used in Australia is Groundwater, so it forms a vitally important element of Australia’s economic prosperity.

The biggest use of Australia’s groundwater is for agricultural production, so it’s not just the quantity of water available that matters to our agribusiness sector – it’s the quality as well.

To help landholders to understand this valuable asset, 4T Consultants has developed a “Getting to Know Your Groundwater” Workshop.  The workshop was originally developed by Fiona Murchie as part of her participation in the National Rural Women’s Coalition E-Leaders program.  It has undergone an update and we are very pleased to be presenting the workshop throughout Central Queensland in early 2016 in conjunction with the Fitzroy Basin Association,  the Dawson Catchment Coordination Association and Capricornia Catchments.  Groundwater experts will be joining the workshop via Skype, so participants will have the opportunity to ask questions.

For the first two workshops, we will be joining forces with AgForce as well, for a full day of groundwater training and information. AgForce will be presenting an Adanced CSG Negotiation Workshop, to bring workshop attendees up to date with the latest developments in groundwater regulation in Queensland.

The dates for the workshops that have been confirmed so far for the first half of 2016 are:

  • March 1st     Taroom  (Joint workshop with AgForce)
  • March 2nd   Injune    (Joint workshop with AgForce)
  • March 8th    Middlemount
  • March 10th  Rockhampton

More workshops are planned for other centres, but the dates have not yet been confirmed, so we will post updates as they become available.

For booking details for the Taroom and Injune , download the brochure here.

These workshops are supported by the Fitzroy Basin Association through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme – Sustainable Agriculture.

1 2
Today is World Water Monitoring Day
June 2017 News
4T turns 20
Wow – Where did that time go? An update on blue green algae treatment.
Surface Water Quality Training – August 17th
Surface Water Quality Training Workshops – Good decisions need good data
Reef Guardian Schools – get involved.
Treating pollution with more ‘pollution’