Establishing Environmental Water Requirements for the Murray-Darling Basin, Australia's Largest Developed River System

Jody Swirepik, Ian Burns, Fiona DYER, I. A. Neave, M. G. O'Brien, G Pryde, Ross THOMPSON

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    33 Citations (Scopus)
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    Abstract

    There is a global need for management of river flows to be informed by science to protect and restore biodiversity and ecological function while maintaining water supply for human needs. However, a lack of data at large scales presents a substantial challenge to developing a scientifically robust approach to flow management that can be applied at a basin and valley scale. In most large systems, only a small number of aquatic ecosystems have been well enough studied to reliably describe their environmental water requirements. The umbrella environmental asset (UEA) approach uses environmental water requirements developed for information-rich areas to represent the water requirements of a broader river reach or valley. We illustrate this approach in the Murray¿Darling Basin (MDB) in eastern Australia, which was recently subject to a substantial revision of water management arrangements. The MDB is more than 1 million km2 with 18 main river valleys and many thousands of aquatic ecosystems. Detailed eco-hydrologic assessments of environmental water requirements that focused on the overbank, bankfull and fresh components of the flow regime were undertaken at a total of 24 UEA sites across the MDB. Flow needs (e.g. flow magnitude, duration, frequency and timing) were established for each UEA to meet the needs of key ecosystem components (e.g. vegetation, birds and fish). Those flow needs were then combined with other analyses to determine sustainable diversion limits across the basin. The UEA approach to identifying environmental water requirements is a robust, science-based and fit-for-purpose approach to determining water requirements for large river basins in the absence of complete ecological knowledge.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1153-1165
    Number of pages13
    JournalRiver Research and Applications
    Volume32
    Issue number6
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016

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    river system
    Rivers
    Water
    basin
    Aquatic ecosystems
    valley
    aquatic ecosystem
    water
    Biodiversity
    Water management
    Birds
    Water supply
    river flow
    river
    Ecosystems
    Fish
    water management
    river basin
    water supply

    Cite this

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    title = "Establishing Environmental Water Requirements for the Murray-Darling Basin, Australia's Largest Developed River System",
    abstract = "There is a global need for management of river flows to be informed by science to protect and restore biodiversity and ecological function while maintaining water supply for human needs. However, a lack of data at large scales presents a substantial challenge to developing a scientifically robust approach to flow management that can be applied at a basin and valley scale. In most large systems, only a small number of aquatic ecosystems have been well enough studied to reliably describe their environmental water requirements. The umbrella environmental asset (UEA) approach uses environmental water requirements developed for information-rich areas to represent the water requirements of a broader river reach or valley. We illustrate this approach in the Murray¿Darling Basin (MDB) in eastern Australia, which was recently subject to a substantial revision of water management arrangements. The MDB is more than 1 million km2 with 18 main river valleys and many thousands of aquatic ecosystems. Detailed eco-hydrologic assessments of environmental water requirements that focused on the overbank, bankfull and fresh components of the flow regime were undertaken at a total of 24 UEA sites across the MDB. Flow needs (e.g. flow magnitude, duration, frequency and timing) were established for each UEA to meet the needs of key ecosystem components (e.g. vegetation, birds and fish). Those flow needs were then combined with other analyses to determine sustainable diversion limits across the basin. The UEA approach to identifying environmental water requirements is a robust, science-based and fit-for-purpose approach to determining water requirements for large river basins in the absence of complete ecological knowledge.",
    keywords = "environmental flows, flow management, hydrology, flow restoration, environmental water requirements, umbrella environmental asset, Murray¿Darling Basin",
    author = "Jody Swirepik and Ian Burns and Fiona DYER and Neave, {I. A.} and O'Brien, {M. G.} and G Pryde and Ross THOMPSON",
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    Establishing Environmental Water Requirements for the Murray-Darling Basin, Australia's Largest Developed River System. / Swirepik, Jody; Burns, Ian; DYER, Fiona; Neave, I. A.; O'Brien, M. G.; Pryde, G; THOMPSON, Ross.

    In: River Research and Applications, Vol. 32, No. 6, 07.2016, p. 1153-1165.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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    T1 - Establishing Environmental Water Requirements for the Murray-Darling Basin, Australia's Largest Developed River System

    AU - Swirepik, Jody

    AU - Burns, Ian

    AU - DYER, Fiona

    AU - Neave, I. A.

    AU - O'Brien, M. G.

    AU - Pryde, G

    AU - THOMPSON, Ross

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    N2 - There is a global need for management of river flows to be informed by science to protect and restore biodiversity and ecological function while maintaining water supply for human needs. However, a lack of data at large scales presents a substantial challenge to developing a scientifically robust approach to flow management that can be applied at a basin and valley scale. In most large systems, only a small number of aquatic ecosystems have been well enough studied to reliably describe their environmental water requirements. The umbrella environmental asset (UEA) approach uses environmental water requirements developed for information-rich areas to represent the water requirements of a broader river reach or valley. We illustrate this approach in the Murray¿Darling Basin (MDB) in eastern Australia, which was recently subject to a substantial revision of water management arrangements. The MDB is more than 1 million km2 with 18 main river valleys and many thousands of aquatic ecosystems. Detailed eco-hydrologic assessments of environmental water requirements that focused on the overbank, bankfull and fresh components of the flow regime were undertaken at a total of 24 UEA sites across the MDB. Flow needs (e.g. flow magnitude, duration, frequency and timing) were established for each UEA to meet the needs of key ecosystem components (e.g. vegetation, birds and fish). Those flow needs were then combined with other analyses to determine sustainable diversion limits across the basin. The UEA approach to identifying environmental water requirements is a robust, science-based and fit-for-purpose approach to determining water requirements for large river basins in the absence of complete ecological knowledge.

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    KW - environmental flows

    KW - flow management

    KW - hydrology

    KW - flow restoration

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    SN - 0886-9375

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