Monitoring Evaluation and Research
Monitoring and evaluating the use of water for the environment is helping to build knowledge about the best way to improve the health of the rivers and wetlands of the Basin, based on what works and what doesn’t work.
Monitoring of aquatic vegetation by CSU in 2019-2020. Photo: CSU
The Commonwealth Environmental Water Office works with Basin states, the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, scientists and the local community to build this knowledge. There are a number of programs currently underway in the Mid-Murray.
Some recent examples of learnings include:
- Environmental water supported the establishment of aquatic vegetation communities in the mid-Murray over 2014-18.
- The increase in longitudinal connectivity in the Yallakool Creek, mid and lower Wakool River and Colligen creek created by the winter watering action provided opportunities for fish movement, dispersal of seeds and vegetation, and maintained critical habitat for animals that have small home ranges.
- Increasing the extent and duration of lateral connectivity can play an important role in river productivity, increasing the opportunity for dissolved carbon inputs to the stream from the sediment or organic materials, such as leaves, biofilms, grasses and other inundated vegetation. The slower recession also provides opportunities for growth and increased cover of submerged and amphibious macrophytes which can increase habitat for invertebrates, frogs and fish. Slower recessions can also minimise the stranding of invertebrates, tadpoles and small fish in backwaters.
Monitoring water quality by CSU in 2019-2020. Photo: CSU
An integrated research and community engagement project to address physical, ecological, and social questions about the Edward/Kolety River. The research is being undertaken in partnership with Yarkuwa Indigenous Knowledge Centre, the Edward-Wakool Angling Association and the Western Murray Land Improvement Group. Researchers will examine how flows influence physical and ecological processes in the Edward/Kolety River. The research will help answer questions on the following themes:
- lateral connectivity under operational and environmental flows
- changes in the condition of riverbanks under operational and environmental flows
- river productivity under operational and environmental flows
- wetland plant emergence and survival in Werai Forest
- turtle movement and condition
- fish spawning in the Edward/Kolety River
Using drones to study changes in the condition of riverbanks
Social research will be integrated with the biophysical research to explore stakeholder perceptions and their involvement in monitoring and water management.
Commonwealth Environmental Water Office MER Program
The Commonwealth Environmental Water Office Monitoring, Evaluation and Research (MER) (Flow-MER) Program integrates and replaces monitoring and research activities under the Long-Term Intervention Monitoring (LTIM) and Environmental Water Knowledge and Research (EWKR) projects.
A detailed MER Plan has been developed for the Edward Kolety-Wakool river system which sets out the schedule of activities to be undertaken in the Edward Kolety-Wakool to June 2023.
Map of the Edward Kolety-Wakool Selected Area showing existing LTIM sites that will be continued (red), sites where water quality sampling will be supplemented with data from WaterNSW loggers (green), sites where new loggers will be installed (yellow). Sites with existing DO loggers that will not be routinely sampled but may be considered for contingency sampling events (pink)
River Murray Channel Monitoring Plan 2021-22 to 2025-26
During 2020-21, environmental water managers from Basin state and Commonwealth agencies collaborated to develop a five-year monitoring plan for the River Murray Channel.
The Plan focuses on monitoring River Murray system scale responses to coordinated water for environment delivery in the Southern Connected Murray-Darling Basin. It builds on existing monitoring programs to fill gaps and to evaluate ecological responses to flow at as system scale, to inform and improve the way water for the environment is managed.
Implementation of the Plan is expected to significantly improve monitoring coverage in the River Murray, focusing on productivity and fish indicators that will directly inform improved management and coordination of flows. Monitoring for 2022-23 is underway, with reporting on 2021-22 results to be published once finalised.
The Plan was developed by the monitoring sub-group of the Southern Connected Basin Environmental Watering Committee, including representatives from the New South Wales Department of Planning, Industry and Environment: Environment Energy and Science, Victorian Environmental Water Holder, South Australian Department of Environment and Water, Murray-Darling Basin Authority and Commonwealth Environmental Water Office, with support and guidance from a team of scientific experts.
The Plan is available at: River Murray Channel Monitoring Plan 2021-22 to 2025-26.
Monitoring, Evaluation and Research Activities and Reports
|Link to report||Description||Date||Link to relevant program|
|Edward/Kolety-Wakool Flow Monitoring, Evaluation and Research Project: Werai Forest Research Report 2022||This report provides the findings of three projects undertaken in Werai Forest in 2021-22 as part of the Edward/Kolety-Wakool Flow-MER program. These projects will assist the future management of the forest and delivery of environmental water to the forest.||2022||MER
|Edward-Kolety-Wakool River System 2021-22 Annual Reports||Summary and technical reports for monitoring activities implemented in 2021-22 from the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office's Monitoring Evaluation Research (MER) Project in the Edward-Kolety-Wakool River system.||2021 - 2022||MER
|Edward-Kolety-Wakool River System 2020-21 Annual Reports||Summary and technical reports for monitoring activities implemented in 2020-21 from the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office's Monitoring Evaluation Research (MER) Project in the Edward-Kolety-Wakool River system.||2020 - 2021||MER
|River Murray Channel Monitoring Plan 2021-22 to 2025-26||A five-year monitoring plan for the River Murray Channel, focused on monitoring River Murray system scale responses to coordinated water for environment delivery in the Southern Connected Murray-Darling Basin.||2021||Standalone project|
|The population status of Murray crayfish in the Edward/Kolety-Wakool system to inform water management||A technical report investigating the distribution and abundance of Murray crayfish in the Edward Kolety-Wakool system. This study considers causes of decline in the population, including blackwater events and provides recommendations for their management into the future.||2021||Standalone project|
|Edward-Kolety-Wakool River System 2019-20 Annual Reports||Summary and technical reports for monitoring activities implemented in 2019-20 from the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office's Monitoring Evaluation Research (MER) Project in the Edward-Kolety-Wakool River system.||2019 - 2020||MER
|Quarterly Outcomes Newsletters||Quarterly reports detailing recent monitoring activities, ecological observations and findings.||2019 - current||MER
|MER Plan||Schedule of monitoring, evaluation and research activities to be undertaken in the Edward Kolety-Wakool river system 2019 – 2023||2023||MER
|The influence of longitudinal hydrological connectivity on resource availability and lower order food web structure in the Murray River||Technical report - To investigate the physico-chemical and ecological responses to hydrological variation (including environmental water allocations) in the River Murray, a large-scale longitudinal investigation of nutrient availability and the lower order structure of aquatic food webs (i.e. microbiota) was undertaken.||2019||Standalone project|
|M & E Report||Edward-Kolety-Wakool river system monitoring and evaluation report||2018-19||LTIM|
|M & E Report||Edward-Kolety-Wakool river system monitoring and evaluation report||2017-18||LTIM|
|M & E Report||Edward-Wakool river system monitoring and evaluation report||2016-17||LTIM|
|M & E Report||Edward-Wakool river system monitoring and evaluation report||2015-16||LTIM|
|M & E Report||Edward-Wakool river system monitoring and evaluation report||2014-15||LTIM|
|M & E Plan||Schedule of on-ground monitoring and evaluation activities in the Edward Wakool 2014-2019||2014||LTIM|
|Hypoxic blackwater Report||Monitoring the effects of environmental flows on hypoxic blackwater in the Murray and Murrumbidgee Rivers||2014||Standalone project|
|Ecosystem responses to environmental water||Monitoring the ecosystem responses to the delivery of environmental water in the Edward-Kolety-Wakool river system||2013-14||Annual monitoring project|
|Ecosystem responses to environmental water||Monitoring the ecosystem responses to the delivery of environmental water in the Edward-Kolety-Wakool river system||2012-13||Annual monitoring project|
|Ecosystem responses to environmental water||Monitoring the ecosystem responses to the delivery of environmental water in the Edward-Kolety-Wakool river system||2011-12||Annual monitoring project|
|Research was conducted in the Upper Murray - centred around Barmah-Millewa Forest and parts of the Edward/Kolety-Wakool system||2014-19||EWKR|
|The Living Murray||The Living Murray sites include the Barmah-Millewa Forest, Gunbower-Koondrook-Perricoota Forests and the River Murray channel.||The Living Murray reports and report cards|