An assessment of the research requirements to support effective provisions of environmental water in the South Australian Murray-Darling Basin
Dr Kane Aldridge, University of Adelaide
University of Adelaide, CSIRO, Flinders University, SARDI
The ecological outcomes of the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) Plan (the Basin Plan) will depend upon the effective provision of environmental water (e-water), which is also likely to enhance the indigenous values of the MDB. As part of the Basin Plan, South Australia’s Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR) is required to develop a Long-Term Watering Plan and annual priorities for e-water, to be considered during e-water allocation planning by e-water holders. However, because climatic and hydrological conditions continuously change, real-time management decisions are also required. To be effective, all three levels of decision making (long-term and annual planning, and delivery) must be underpinned by the best available science, with a capacity to incorporate new knowledge.
Progress Update and Key Findings
The primary objective of this project was to identify research and information that is required to support decisions regarding the provision of environmental water within the South Australian Murray-Darling Basin (SAMDB).
Since the SA MDB has been the focus of much research, knowledge gaps were identified through consolidating current knowledge on the ecological response to flow through the entire SAMDB and summarising decision making processes (including indigenous engagement). The project was broken up into discrete tasks:
An assessment of approaches for decision support and development of an adaptive management framework regarding environmental water provisions.
Consolidating ecological understanding and identifying key ecological knowledge gaps (through the development of conceptual models).
Developing an indigenous engagement framework.
Adoption and Impact
The project developed 4 reports (3 task reports and synthesis report) that have consolidated the existing knowledge and decision making process related to environmental water provisions with the SAMDB. This information will be invaluable for future decision-making in itself and indeed the information has already been used within priority projects of the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR), such as the development of the long-term watering plan for the SAMDB and the South Australian Riverland Integrated Infrastructure Project (SARFIIP). The project has played a key role in the development of the following Goyder Institute projects that will fulfil knowledge gaps identified in the project described here:
Effective and efficient monitoring of outcomes from watering River Murray floodplains and wetlands
Investigation of primary and secondary productivity in the Coorong estuary in relation to low volume freshwater discharge
Development of a River Operations Decision Support System for DEWNR River Murray Operations