Long Term Intervention Monitoring

Lake Brewster inlet channel, Lachlan River catchment, NSW

Contact PersonPenny Everingham, Project Coordinator
Funding BodyCommonwealth Environmental Water Office
Duration 2012-2020

Summary

The role of the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder (CEWH) is to manage Commonwealth environmental water.  The Water Holder, supported by the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office, manages the Commonwealth’s environmental water portfolio, research projects that inform approaches to aquatic ecosystems and environmental watering policy, and major projects to improve water quality and the ecological health of iconic wetland assets in the Murray-Darling Basin.

Long Term Intervention Monitoring (LTIM) is a key element of the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office (CEWO) response to the requirements of the Water Act 2007 and the MDBA’s Basin Plan.  The LTIM aims to support good governance and reporting and critically, improved decision making around the use of environmental water through the application of the principles of adaptive management.  Monitoring and evaluation are critical steps in the management of Commonwealth environmental water and support its efficient and effective use within the existing planning framework.  Monitoring is used to quantify the environmental outcomes of the allocation of Commonwealth Environmental water.  Evaluation is the process of comparing these outcomes to the objectives set out in the legislation and determining whether the allocation was an effective and efficient use of environmental flows.  By measuring environmental responses to watering activities in selected areas of the Basin, this project is an integral part of the Monitoring, Evaluation, Reporting and Improvement (MERI) Framework for Commonwealth environmental watering in the Murray-Darling Basin.

The MDFRC has been appointed to act as the CEWO Monitoring and Evaluation Adviser.  In 2012, the MDFRC worked with the CEWO to develop the Logic and Rationale for monitoring activities which underpins the LTIM.  Further development and refinement of the environmental Outcomes Framework has occurred during 2013 and 2014, including standardising monitoring methods, data collection and planning for the seven selected areas in the Basin which will be the focus of the LTIM program.  The MDFRC has developed the Basin Evaluation Plan for evaluating the Basin Scale outcomes from the use of Commonwealth Environmental Water as part of its contribution to achieving the Basin Plan objectives.

Project objectives

The objectives of the Long Term Intervention Monitoring  Project are to:

  • Monitor and evaluate the ecological response to Commonwealth environmental water at Selected Areas
  • Evaluate the contribution of Commonwealth environmental water to the objectives of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan
  • Infer ecological outcomes of Commonwealth environmental water in areas of the Murray-Darling Basin not monitored
  • Support the adaptive management of Commonwealth environmental water

Long Term Intervention Monitoring

Monitoring is undertaken to understand the impact of Commonwealth environmental water at both an area (Selected Area) and Basin scale. This evaluation is one step in the adaptive management of Commonwealth environmental water.

The Office has engaged monitoring teams (Monitoring and Evaluation Providers), led by research institutions, to develop and implement 5-year monitoring and evaluation for Selected Areas within the Basin.

The Murray–Darling Freshwater Research Centre (MDFRC) are acting as Monitoring and Evaluation Advisers for the project and will conduct an annual Basin evaluation of outcomes at the Basin scale.

The focus of the monitoring is to identify ecological outcomes from the use of Commonwealth environmental water to support reporting and adaptive management.

Selected Areas for monitoring

Monitoring and evaluation of Commonwealth environmental water is undertaken in seven areas within the Murray-Darling Basin (see below). These Selected Areas were chosen to provide maximum possible coverage of areas where Commonwealth environmental watering will occur and to complement, rather than duplicate, monitoring activities already being undertaken by others including Basin states and the Murray-Darling Basin Authority. The monitoring at the Selected Areas commenced in 2014-15 and will continue until June 2020.

Outcomes

The LTIM is now entering the phase where the actual data collection (2014-15) at selected areas across the Basin will be evaluated at the basin scale commencing 2016.  This next phase will also be using the monitoring data to create and verify models which can be used to predict ecological responses and measure the impact of Commonwealth environmental water across the Basin.

Under this project the MDFRC is required to provide reports on the outcomes of Commonwealth environmental watering at a basin scale on an annual basis as well as cumulatively, over a five year period.  Importantly, these reports will capture the lessons learnt from the watering actions undertaken to ensure a cycle of continual improvement in the management of Commonwealth Environmental Water. This work will involve collaboration between CSIRO, Universities, State agencies and other Commonwealth departments, including the MDBA.

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