The Port waterways (Port River and Barker Inlet Estuary) are north west of Adelaide. Residential and industrial areas surround the Port River while suburban encroachment is occurring along the southern part of Barker Inlet.
This diverse estuary includes deep channels, large areas of fringing mangroves, extensive tidal flats and seagrass beds. It is an important nursery for fish and marine invertebrates. The waterways support a diverse and abundant bird population.
The Port waterways are suffering from nutrient pollution. The major sources of nutrients entering the waterways for many decades have been from the Bolivar wastewater treatment plant and the Penrice soda ash plant at Osborne. Stormwater is a relatively minor source of nutrients.
The excessive nutrient levels in the Port waterways lead to phytoplankton blooms and the abundant growth of nuisance seaweed such as Ulva (sea lettuce). Phytoplankton blooms cause noticeable discoloration of the water column, reduce water clarity and sometimes consist of species that are toxic. Ulva and other macroalgae form floating rafts that block cooling water intakes, smother mangrove pneumatophores and accumulate along the shoreline in large drifts that decompose, producing unpleasant odours.
The EPA began a study of the water quality of Port waterways in 2004 with the assistance of funding from the federal government. The study has led to the development of the Port River Water Quality Improvement Plan (WQIP) and Appendices. This plan aims to reduce the quantity of nutrients discharged into the waterway. The targets for water quality improvement for the Port Waterways have been included into the Adelaide Coastal Water Quality Improvement Plan.
Current monitoring of some sites for the Port waterways is included into the Aquatic Ecosystem Condition Reports for the Adelaide metropolitan waters.
Prior to 2008 the EPA monitored and reported on water quality in the Port waterways for the following sites:
- Port River: Site 1 - Hindmarsh Reach, adjacent Snowdens Beach
- Port River: Site 2 - Lipson Reach adjacent quarantine station
- Port River: Site 3 - Outer Harbor
- Port River: Site 4 - North Arm adjacent causeway bridge
- Port River: Site 5 - North Arm adjacent Magazine Creek
- Port River: Site 6 - Torrens Reach adjacent mouth of Angas Inlet
- Port River: Site 7 - Torrens Reach
- Port River: Site 8 - Barker Inlet north of Section Bank
- Port River: Site 9 - Inner harbour
- Port River Water Quality Report No. 1 (1997)
- Port River Water Quality Report No. 2 (2002)
- Port River Sediment Quality Report (1997)
- Port River: Heavy metals and PCBs in dolphins, fish and sediment (2000)
- City of Port Adelaide-Enfield
- City of Salisbury
- Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board
- Marine Discovery Centre