Peel Inlet and Harvey Estuary

Peel Inlet and Harvey Estuary and its catchment - map 

Peel Inlet and Harvey Estuary and its catchment—map (PDF - 313 KB)

About the catchment

The Peel Inlet and Harvey Estuary catchment comprises the coastal plain sub-catchments of the Serpentine, Murray and Harvey rivers in the Murray River (WA) and Harvey River drainage basins.

The catchment runs south from Byford in the Perth metropolitan area for approximately 100 km to the town of Harvey and extends inland into the Darling Range, incorporating towns such as Jarrahdale and Dwellingup. While much of the Peel-Yalgorup System Ramsar site falls within this catchment, the eastern coastal lagoons (Lakes Preston, Yalgorup, Clifton) do not discharge to the Peel Inlet and Harvey Estuary and are outside the water quality hotspot boundary.

Mandurah is the largest urban area in the catchment and extends from the ocean mouth of the Peel Inlet along the northern shores of the Peel Inlet and Harvey Estuary.

Values to be protected

The Peel-Yalgorup System Ramsar site is an internationally significant habitat for waterbirds and migratory wading birds. Tens of thousands of waterbirds gather each year with over 80 species recorded, of which 29 are listed on the Japan–Australia Migratory Bird Agreement (JAMBA) and the China–Australia Migratory Bird Agreement (CAMBA). It contains one of the few places in the world that supports living thrombolites in inland waters.

The system is also valuable culturally and as a commercial and recreational waterway with significant development in the tourism industry.

Fish and shellfish harvesting is a major recreational and commercial industry in the area.

Ramsar site

  • Peel-Yalgorup System

Water quality issues

The major problem in the rivers and estuary is an excess of phosphorus from rural and urban land use practices entering from the catchment and feeding the growth of algae, Urban areas currently account for only 6 per cent of the catchment, but contribute more than 20 per cent of phosphorus. Unsewered urban areas have a big impact, contributing 17 per cent of phosphorus in winter.

Along with Vasse Wonnerup, population growth in the catchment is among the highest in the country. Due to its proximity to Perth, this growth is fuelling rapid urban and peri-urban expansion in the Mandurah area. Increased demands on the estuary have placed additional burdens on the system (for example, water extraction, spraying for mosquito control, agricultural production, foreshore development and access, boat use and moorings and jetties).

Key water quality improvement projects

  • Water Quality Improvement Plan for the Rivers and Estuary of the Peel-Harvey System - Phosphorus Management
  • Water Sensitive Urban Design—Peel-Harvey WSUD Local Planning Policy
  • Water Quality Monitoring Programme for the Peel-Harvey Coastal Catchment
  • Model Framework Development Report
  • Establishment of a Decision Support System for Water Quality Improvement and Protection of the Peel Inlet and Harvey Estuary
  • BMP Scenarios Report
  • Ecological Character Description for the Peel-Yalgorup Ramsar Site
  • Targeted Assistance to Intensive Agricultural Industries in the Peel-Harvey Coastal Plain

Key stakeholders/agencies

  • Environmental Protection Authority WA
  • Department of Environment and Conservation
  • Department of Water
  • Department of Agriculture and Food
  • Department of Planning and Infrastructure
  • Local government authorities
  • Peel-Harvey Catchment Council