This could be a teachable moment for water resource managers all over the world. Having allowed water quality to reach condition where one of the region’s greatest assets, the Great Barrier Reef, is at risk the Queensland Government is now faced with an enormous bill to try and fix the problem. Wouldn’t it have been better to have sufficient monitoring in place to track nutrient and sediment loading as a cumulative risk? You might argue that it is only the value of the Great Barrier Reef that makes such an investment worthwhile. I would argue that for every watershed in the world the fresh water and near-shore environment is a most valuable asset, and hence worth protecting. The distinction is whether there will be political will to clean up problems that get out of hand. Again, supporting the argument that sustainable stewardship, managed with informative monitoring, is the best policy everywhere.