Monitoring, evaluating and undertaking research underpins decisions on the use and management of Commonwealth water for the environment.
Science and knowledge tells us the outcomes we have achieved from water the environment and informs what we could do next time to achieve the best results to improve the health of the rivers and wetlands of the Basin.
The Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder (CEWH) works with Basin states, the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, scientists, First Nations people and other local community members to build this knowledge.
Environmental Monitoring, Reedy Lagoon, Gunbower VIC
To guide CEWH monitoring, evaluation and research activities, and to ensure we fulfil legislative and Basin Plan obligations, the CEWH has developed the:
Monitoring, Evaluating and Research Activities
Key monitoring, evaluation and research activities that underpin management of water for the environment include:
Operational monitoring is undertaken for all Commonwealth environmental watering actions and involves collecting on ground data with regard to environmental water delivery such as volumes delivered, impact on the river systems, area of inundation and river levels. Operational monitoring is undertaken to:
- ensure water is delivered as planned (flows, area of inundation etc)
- provide observations of the initial ecological response (photos and local descriptions)
- help manage unintended consequences (unintended inundation).
Intervention monitoring and research
Intervention monitoring, evaluation and research aims to understand the environmental response of Commonwealth environmental watering objectives and expected outcomes. Intervention monitoring, evaluation and research results are used by the CEWH to demonstrate outcomes, inform management of Commonwealth water for the environment and meet our legislative reporting requirements. Intervention monitoring, evaluation and research activities include:
- CEWH’s Science Program Flow-Monitoring Evaluation and Research Program (Flow-MER)
- Integrates and replaces monitoring and research activities under the Long Term Intervention Monitoring project (concluded June 2019) and Environmental Water Knowledge and Research (concluded June 2019)
- Recent highlights from the Flow-MER Program
- Review of the Long Term Intervention Monitoring and Environmental Water Knowledge and Research projects
- The CEWH has reviewed the success of these monitoring programs to identify how to improve its future monitoring, evaluation and research activities.
- CEWH’s Future Science Program (Flow-MER)
- The CEWH conducted a collaborative design process for the Basin evaluation and research component of the future Flow-MER Program.
- Short term intervention monitoring reports
- The CEWH conducts monitoring, evaluation and research activities on the short-term (annual) environmental response of selected watering actions in different areas of the Basin.
Requirements and legislative obligations
The Water Act 2007 and the Murray Darling Basin Plan outline specific monitoring, evaluation and reporting requirements that the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder must comply with.
Water Act 2007
The Water Act requires an annual report on the management of Commonwealth environmental water be provided to the Commonwealth Water Minister, to be tabled in each House of Parliament and given to relevant State Ministers for each of the Basin States (section 114(1)). The report must include information on achievements against the objectives of the Basin Plan’s Environmental Watering Plan (section 114(2a)).
Murray Darling Basin Plan
The Basin Plan places several obligations on the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder with respect to monitoring, evaluation and reporting, including to:
- report annually to the Murray-Darling Basin Authority on the identification of environmental water and the monitoring of its use (Basin Plan Schedule 12, item 9)
- report every five years to the Murray-Darling Basin Authority on the achievement of environmental outcomes at a Basin scale, by reference to the targets to measure progress towards the environmental objectives in Schedule 7 (Basin Plan Schedule 12, item 7).