Jump to Main Content
Real-time river monitoring supports community management of low-flow periods
- Ellison, Joanna C., Smethurst, Philip J., Morrison, Brigid M., Keast, David, Almeida, Auro, Taylor, Peter, Bai, Qifeng, Penton, David J., Yu, Hongfang
- Journal of hydrology 2019 v.572 pp. 839-850
- Internet, adaptive management, agricultural watersheds, collaborative management, decision making, industry, issues and policy, monitoring, rain, river flow, rivers, soil water, stakeholders, stream flow, streams, telemetry, water management, water quality, water temperature, Tasmania
- Increasing pressure on river catchment water resources has heightened the need for real-time monitoring data for water management agencies and users. This study investigates the capability to develop a technical basis for water co-management at the catchment scale. A web application (dashboard) was created that displayed real-time data for weather, soil water, river flow and water quality at high spatial and temporal resolutions, including streamflow and rainfall forecasts. A method to predict stream water temperature was developed and tested using an interactive table for visualisation of complex data. The dashboard was used to provide information and alerting to water users in an agricultural catchment, through the Ringarooma Water Users Group (RWUG) in NE Tasmania, Australia. The dashboard was updated several times per day using telemetry and data platform services, and accessed by RWUG members mainly during periods of low flow when water extraction restrictions can be applied. Irrigators gained an improved understanding of streamflow behaviour in response to weather variability, and water extractions and releases, and developed abilities to voluntarily manage the water resource as three sub-groups. The Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE) collaborated with the RWUG in this adaptive management approach, as enabled by the Ringarooma River Catchment Water Management Plan, and later informed a new Ministerial Policy for ‘Water Resource Management During Extreme Dry Conditions’. Group management was assisted by using alerts sent through the existing DPIPWE text messaging service. Results showed that stakeholder understanding of technical information and scenario implications using the sensor-based dashboard increased capacity of irrigators to make decisions that improve production and social outcomes, while considering environmental values. This study demonstrates that the information provided through the dashboard enabled a high level of community and inter-agency co-operation, demonstrating potential to apply this management approach in other catchments.