COVID-19:Water is essential for public health

Containing the COVID-19 virus is a global public health challenge.  

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), frequent and thorough hand washing can help reduce your chances of contracting infectious diseases such as COVID-19. 

But it is hard to wash your hands if you don’t have access to clean water – and worldwide 780 million people do not have access to an improved water source.[1]  In 2017, poor sanitation and limited access to hand-washing facilities contributed to around 1.5 million deaths worldwide.  In the least developed countries, 22% of health care facilities have no water service, 21% no sanitation service, and 22% no waste management service.[2]

The pandemic has devastated the lives of poor people across the developing world.  COVID-19 threatens to hit the world’s poorest nations disproportionately, the United Nations has warned, not just as a health crisis but as a social and economic crisis for billions of people in the months and years to come.

The UN Development Program expects income losses to exceed $220 billion in developing countries as economic shutdowns linked to the coronavirus bite, and nearly half of all jobs in Africa could be lost.

Exacerbating the crisis is climate change which primarily impacts the water cycle.  UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterras has noted that 40% of the world’s people are affected by water scarcity and more than 90% of disasters are water-related.

Water scarcity is a global problem that needs collective action. There is no more urgent a time to address the world’s water crisis than now, when people are constantly being reminded to use water to combat the spread of the virus.

Key to addressing water scarcity is improved water management.  We must ensure sustainable and equitable water for all, if we are to stem future crises.  Finding the balance in allocations between agriculture, industry and growing urban centres while protecting the environment is an ongoing activity for governments, and hydrological models remain a vital tool, particularly when it comes to predictions of the future.

eWater was established by Australian Federal and State governments to provide watermodelling tools, technical support and capacity building in Australia and internationally.  eWater works with DFAT, the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, the Mekong River Commission, and a range of government water authorities across the Indo-Pacific to help manage water better with a view to providing reliable water supply and sanitation for rural and urban communities to improve health and wellbeing for all.

In restricting the spread of the COVID-19 virus and in adapting to climate change, improved water management is critical and must be given higher priority.

[1] World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF. Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation: 2012.

[2] WHO Fact Sheet: Drinking Water June 2019

Supporting Queensland’s next generation of water modellers

The Queensland Water Modelling Network (QWMN) aims to improve the state’s capacity to model its surface water and groundwater resources and improve the quality of it’s models. 

Established by the Queensland Government in 2017, the QWMN provides tools, information and collaborative platforms to support best-practice use of water models and the uptake of their results by policy makers and natural resource managers. The QWMN encourages engagement between modellers, researchers, policy makers and resource managers.

A key focus of the QWMN is building Queensland water sector capability through its mentoring program. The program partners experienced modellers with university undergraduate students and young water professionals interested in water modelling, it The aims to:

  • Grow the size and capabilities of the Queensland water modelling workforce by building a pipeline of skilled and enthusiastic graduates who want to pursue water modelling careers in Queensland.
  • Expose students to ‘real world’ water policy issues so that they develop applied knowledge and become enthused about the work of water modellers.
  • Develop undergraduate student critical analysis and systemic understanding of how the outputs from water models are and can be used.

The program has two components. Firstly, students undertake online water model training and tutorials to become familiar with the relevant models and tools. Students then undertake a ‘real world’ modelling challenge, supported by mentors who are experienced Queensland Government modellers.  

eWater is an active supporter of the mentoring program, providing access to the full version of Source, training materials and technical support for participants.

Phase 1 of the program has been successfully completed by students from Griffith University, James Cook University, University of South Queensland, Queensland University of Technology and University of Queensland and a young professional within the Queensland Department of Natural Resources Mines and Energy (DNRME).

Students used eWater Source to understand how water quality targets are set for the Great Barrier Reef catchments. The Cattle Creek sub catchment within the Mackay/Whitsunday region used in the challenge. Through the project, participants both learn how to use Australia’s National Hydrological Modelling Platform, eWater Source and are exposed the the challenges faced by both government and industry to meet the Great Barrier Reef water quality targets.

The program has since been extended to students at the universities of Central Queensland and the Sunshine Coast in 2020-21. The QWMN is also working to engage modelling experts from the private sector.

More about the QWMN

More about eWater Source and managing the Great Barrier Reef

Representing bushfire impacts in Source

eWater’s Source modelling provides a valuable tool to help water and catchment managers predict the impacts of the recent bushfires on river systems and water supplies. 

Source has a number of rainfall-runoff models which can be directly parameterized to reflect changes to runoff volumes due to forest destruction and regrowth.  Source water system models using these can then be combined with historical climate data to assess changes in the reliability of water supply resulting from the bushfire impacts during the regrowth period.  Such analyses would involve hundreds of runs of the models to reflect climate variability.  Additional impacts due to climate change can also be assessed.  Existing water system models developed using pre-determined inflow data can be adjusted to reflect changes in runoff behaviour described by Hill et al. (2008).  These models can also be used to assess changes in the reliability of water supply resulting from the bushfire impacts during the regrowth period. 

The Source rainfall-runoff models can also be used to assess the likely impacts on stream and water storage water quality.  The models would be paramaterised according to findings of past studies (such as Sheridan, G.J. et al. 2007), and would inform catchment and water managers where contingency management plans are required.  A precursor to Source has been used to model both the runoff volume and quality impacts of past bushfires in Australia (Murray-Darling Basin Commission, 2007; Feikema et al. 2011).

Water Research Australia – 2020 Catchment Forum

This year’s Water Research Australia catchment forum had a focus on bushfires ‘Recovery for Resilience’. eWater presented the initial findings of our analysis of the impacts of the 2003 bushfires in the ACT on water yield.


Feikema, P. et al. 2011, Estimating catchment-scale impacts of wildfire on sediment and nutrient loads using the E2 catchment modelling framework, Environmental Modelling and Software, 26, pp. 913-928

Hill, P.I. et al. 2008, Spatially explicit modelling of the hydrologic response of bushfires at the catchment scale, Australasian Journal of Water Resources, 12:3, 281-290, DOI: 10.1080/13241583.2008.11465354

Bushfire burning near Blowering Reservoir, NSW (Greg Brave, Adobe Stock)

Bushfire impacts on hydrology

Changes to the quality of runoff

Past bushfires have resulted in significant water quality emergencies, for example:

  • contamination of water supply reservoirs in Canberra’s Cotter catchment, leading to disruptions to water supply and the need to construct a new water treatment plant (White I. et al, 2006)
  • a significant fish kill due to near-zero dissolved oxygen levels in the Ovens River in north-east Victoria following a severe storm over a fire-impacted tributary (Smith, H. et al., 2011)

Numerous studies following past bushfires have given us a trove of data with which to predict future impacts on the quality of runoff (e.g. Sheridan, G.J. et al. 2007).  The short term increase in runoff rates following bushfires exacerbates the risks of water quality emergencies following bushfires.

Runoff after bushfires can contain high loads of sediment, ash, debris, chemicals and nutrients (Daria Ni, Adobe Stock)

Changes to the quantity of runoff

Bushfires in Australian eucalypt forests lead to significant detrimental impacts on runoff volumes, and the quality of runoff.  Numerous studies (Langford, K. J. 1976; Kuczera, G. A. 1985; Hill, P. I. et al. 2008) have found that for a given rain event, runoff volumes initially increase compared with pre-bush fire rates, then significantly reduce before returning to pre-fire rates as the regrowth forest matures.  This behaviour is shown below:

Projected change in streamflow relative to mean pre-2003 fire flow for the Murray River (Hill et al. 2008)

The initial responses of runoff rates to bushfire can be even more complex. Fire can make the soil hydrophobic, leading to increased rates of runoff, fire can open up cracks or root holes, leading to increased infiltration and reduced runoff rates, or ash can seal soil pores, leading to increased runoff (Sheridan, G.J. et al. 2007).

Destruction of the forest and canopy, and death of the trees, is the major driver of the short-term change in runoff rates, as the trees can no longer transpire, and the canopies no longer intercept rainfall.  As the trees regrow and mature the leaf area of the canopies increase, and root zone becomes deeper.  The increasing leaf area leads to higher transpiration rates and so reducing runoff, and the deeper root zone enables the growing forest to access water from deeper in the soil profile, also contributing to reducing runoff as the trees regrow. 

Water yields decrease as vegetation recovers from bushfire, and it can take decades for yields to return to pre-fire levels (Kinglake bushfire regrowth – David Hutchinson, Adobe Stock)


Kuczera, G. A. 1985, Prediction of water yield reductions following a bushfire in Ash- Mixed Species Eucalypt Forest, Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works, Water Supply Catchment Hydrology Research, Rep. No. MMBW-W-0014

Langford, K. J. 1976, Change in yield of water following a bushfire in a forest of Eucalyptus reganas, Journal of Hydrology, Vol. 29, pp. 87-114

Murray-Darling Basin Commission, Risks to Shared Water Resources, Impact of the 2003 Alpine Bushfires on Streamflow: Modelling the impacts of the 2003 bushfires on water quality in catchments in Victoria and New South Wales, 2007

Sheridan, G.J. et al. 2007, Quantification of hillslope runoff and erosion processes before and after wildfire in a wet Eucalyptus forest, Journal of Hydrology, Vol 323, pp. 12-28 

Post bushfire hydrology

The recent devastating bushfires have left many water supply catchments significantly damaged.

Water and catchment managers will be faced with a range of short and long-term impacts on both water quality and volumes of runoff. 

In this page, we bring together information to support our community work through these challenging times, including:

  • an overview of the current state of knowledge of post bushfire hydrology,
  •  how to apply Source functionality to assess post bushfire hydrology, and
  • useful information sources.

Research and past experience tell us that it could take decades for catchments to recover and that the impacts will vary at different stages of the recovery process. Modelling will be an important tool, providing water and catchment managers with a platform to understand the different risks to water availability and water quality as catchment conditions change and to test the performance of different management responses. 

If you would like more information or support with using Source to help understand the impact of bushfire on your catchment or water supply, please contact:

Geoff Adams ([email protected]/02 6201 2386)


Trudy Green ([email protected] / 02 6206 8796)

Bushfire impacts on hydrology

The two most significant impacts of bushfires on hydrology are changes to water quality and runoff rates. We have compiled a short summary of information on these impacts.  

Find out more

Representing bushfire impacts in Source

Source has a range of functionality that can be adapted to model the impacts of bushfires. This section provides an overview of how this can be done.

Find out more

Useful resources 

The eWater Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) and its predecessors the CRC for Catchment Hydrology and CRC for Freshwater Ecology led a range of initiatives investigating the impacts of bushfires on catchments. Much of this information remains relevant today.  https://ewater.org.au/bushfire/main.shtml

Bushfire and Hazards CRC 

Water Quality Australia 

Factsheet Bushfires and Risks to Drinking Water Quality (Water Research Australia)

Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research 

Fire and Soils: A review of the potential impacts of different fire regimes on soil erosion and sedimentation, nutrient and carbon cycling, and water quantity and quality (NSW Environment Energy and Science)

US Geological Survey – Water Quality after wildfire

Strengthening Water Resources Management in Afghanistan

The Strengthening Water Resources Management in Afghanistan (SWaRMA) project is a two year collaboration between the governments of Afghanistan and Australia through the CSIRO.

eWater, in collaboration with the CSIRO has supported the initiative through:

  • Developing a Kabul Basin Model.
  • Developing a Whole-of-Afghanistan water availability model.
  • Capacity building in water resource modelling with eWater Source.
Panjshir valley in Eastern Afghanistan (credit:mbrand85/AdobeStock)

Kabul Basin Model

The Kabul River Basin is located in Eastern Afghanistan. It joins the Indus River in neighbouring Pakistan. Most inflows are generated from snow melt in the sub-basins of the Panjsher and Konar rivers, which are located high in the Hindu-Kush mountains, with their heavy snowfalls and many glaciers. The catchment is largely undeveloped, with only 6% of land used for cropping (FAO, 2010) and 1% urban. Kabul City is the largest urban area with a population of 4 million.

The model includes water demands for irrigated cropping, urban water, hydropower and the expected water demand from the Aynak mine. Minimum flow requirements are included to meet environmental needs. Urban demands are only modelled for Kabul City, as it is the only urban demand large enough to have an impact on downstream water supply. After consultation with the Ministry of Energy And Water (MEW), demands for Kabul were estimated as 120 L per person per day. Water demand on groundwater is factored into water use for Kabul City, since it is known that over time the reliance on groundwater for Kabul City will change to using surface water from the proposed Shatoot and/or Gulbahar dams. The model is conceptualised to provide for this change in the future.

The Source model for the Kabul Basin provides a broad scale representation of the Kabul River basin and its key water demand and supply elements. It serves as a tool for capacity building, including demonstrating the use of models to assess different water management scenarios. The model is not currently intended to be applied as an operational model of the system. However, it has been conceptualised to provide a framework representing the key features which can be extended with further information regarding management rules and requirements. 

This model has been handed over to the Ministry of Energy and Water, so they can continue to develop the model and use it to more detailed analysis and water resource planning and management. 

Integrated Source model for the Kabul River Basin
Integrated Source model for the Kabul River Basin

Rapid assessment of whole of Afghanistan water availability

The Source platform makes it possible to explore water availability across multiple scales, from the scale of sub-catchment tributary to major river basin scale to the whole country. A whole of Afghanistan Source model was built to undertake a rapid assessment of water availability in Afghanistan’s five major river basins. Due to limited historical data, the assessments were based on daily global data inputs for the period 2006-2016 and long-term monthly average flows from pre-1980.

Afghanistan is a land locked country and shares its river basins with its neighbouring countries. The use of global input sets helped overcome potential issues of sourcing this data from these other countries. However, a lack of available observed flow sites within these countries meant that neighbouring flow contributions could not be calibrated.

Due to lack of observed flows, it was only possible to calibrate against historical average monthly flows. As such the model can only be considered to represent long-term average conditions across Afghanistan and can only give an indicative assessment of water availability. In time, the model can be further developed as data and knowledge improve.

The rapid assessment provides a much needed baseline tool and information source for water managers. The figure below is an example of the outputs available from the model, it shows the area-weighted outflow per sub-catchment, providing an indication of the distribution of water availability across Afghanistan. It shows that the higher mountain areas are the main source of flows, particularly the Hindu Kush mountains, which receives significant snow in winter.

Area weighted outflows per sub-catchment in Afghanistan


FAO (2010) Land cover of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nationshttps://dwms.fao.org/~draft/lc_2010_en.asp (accessed 12/12/2018) 

Learn more about SWaRMA here

How Source supports the management of the Murray-Darling Basin

The Murray–Darling Basin is the largest and most complex river system in Australia. It runs through four States and one Territory and has a river network of 77,000 kilometres.

The Basin is home to more than 2.6 million people and has significant economic, cultural, social, and environmental values.  Agriculture in the basin produces $24 billion annually, its waterways provide clean drinking water to 3 million people and its unique environment is home to 120 species of waterbirds and 46 species of native fish.

Modelling plays an important role in supporting the management of the Murray-Darling Basin. The need for a modelling platform that could be used across the basin’s diverse river systems was a key driver behind the National Hydrology Modelling Strategy.  This case study highlights some of the ways Source models are used by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA).

Water resource planning

The MDBA, in partnership with the River Murray States, have built a Source model to support water resource planning in the River Murray and lower Darling river systems. The Source Murray Model (SMM) is based on a daily timestep and includes:

  • system inflows
  • flow routing and losses
  • irrigation, stock and domestic, town water supply and environmental demands
  • inter-state water sharing, allocation and ownership
  • definition of State Water access rights, allocation and accounting
  • water trade
  • water ordering and the operation of dams and infrastructure
  • salt transport.
The Source Murray Model, is one of the most complex Source models built to date.

The SMM allows the MDBA and Basin States to test policy and management options and observe the likely impacts changes may have on the system, such as possible changes to State water shares or the reliability of supply to water users, compliance with the Basin Plan or to manage river salinity levels. Options can be compared against four standard planning scenarios:

  • Without Development – removes consumptive diversions and regulating infrastructure (dams, weirs, offtake regulators etc.) to estimate what might have happened without regulation
  • Baseline Diversion Limit – represents the best estimate of conditions at June 2009, this scenario is used to define the Baseline conditions under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan (Basin Plan)
  • Current Conditions – represents the best estimate of the current management and operation of the Murray and lower Darling rivers
  • BSM2030 – represents the process used to calculate and maintain the salinity registers, which are central to the joint management of salinity in the River Murray system under the Basin Salinity Management 2030 strategy.

River operations

The MDBA is responsible for managing the River Murray and lower Darling rivers in accordance with a long-standing agreement between the Australian Government and the Basin states. As part of this, the MDBA implements water sharing arrangements, manages water infrastructure and delivers water to meet irrigation, stock and domestic, urban water supply and environmental demands.

To do this, the MDBA must understand:

  • how much water is in the systems dams
  • current and forecast river flows
  • inflows from tributaries, including water trade
  • how much water will be lost to evaporation and seepage
  • demand for water along the length of the river system
  • system constraints and operating rules

For many years the MDBA has used a spreadsheet model to support its river operations. Together with eWater, the MDBA has built a Source operations model to replace these spreadsheets. This source model is currently being tested before adoption. On completion of this testing, the model will give river operators a much more powerful management tool, allowing them to readily plan for operations under many different scenarios and to simulate the potential impacts of different operational decisions, on a daily and seasonal basis.

Hume Dam, NSW – is key to river operations in the River Murray (credit: Hypervision/Adobe Stock)

Environmental flow modelling

Over the last decade, significant volumes of water in the Murray-Darling Basin have been set aside for environmental purposes. Managing and delivering this water provides a range of new challenges for water managers. 

The MDBA, Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder, then New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage, Victorian Department of Environment, Lands, Water and Planning, and the South Australian Department for Environment and Water collaborated with eWater to better enhance environmental water modelling functionality in Source, through the:

  • environmental flow node – defines environmental flow demands based on a range of criteria, such as frequency, duration or magnitude of flows or event triggers
  • environmental water manager – to compare and prioritise different environmental demands, both spatially and temporally, subject to environmental water allocations.

This functionality allows river operators and environmental water managers to model different flow scenarios, to compare potential environmental benefits, understand the possible impacts on river operations and identify opportunities to boost environmental outcomes by combining with other water deliveries.  

Managing salt

Large areas of the Basin are underlain by ancient marine sediments. Land clearing and water intensive farming has brought saline groundwater closer to the surface and into the river system. Increased water use has reduced river flows, resulting in less water to dilute the salt or flush it out to sea.

High salt levels can have serious implications for water quality, plant growth, land productivity, biodiversity, and the supply of water for human and animal needs. Managing the impacts of salinity is one of the most significant challenges in the Basin. Since the 1960s, governments and communities have worked to manage salt through improved land management practices and infrastructure. In 2015, the MDBA and Basin States launched the Basin Salinity Management 2030 strategy, which sets out how governments are working to address salinity and meet agreed targets. 

Modelling underpinned the development of the strategy and will be a key part of its implementation. The SMM was used to understand baseline flows and to set agreed salinity targets. The model can also be used to test different management actions and how these might affect salt loads and salinity, and achieving the aims of the strategy. Using the SSM, baseline salt loads can be determined and to assess how these might be affected by different flow regimes or management actions. Figure 2 provides an example of the model outputs, it compares historic, current and benchmark salt loads. 

The SSM is an important tool for understanding salt loads, in this example historic, benchmark and current salt loads are compared.

This case study was prepared in collaboration with the Murray-Darling Basin Authority

Partnering with the Mekong River Commission

eWater has worked with the Mekong River Commission (MRC) since 2013. 

Established in 1995 under the Mekong Agreement. The MRC is an inter-governmental agency working with the governments of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam with the goal of jointly managing the shared water resource and the sustainable development of the Mekong River.

Since 2013, eWater has partnered with the MRC on several projects.

The Mekong River Luang Prabang, Laos

Modelling in the Mekong River Basin

Beginning in 2013, eWater and the MRC worked together to trial the adoption of Source in the Mekong. This included developing a plugin to convert the MRC’s existing IQQM (Integrated Quantity and Quality Model) models to Source. Initially, work focused on the 3C catchment, and was progressively expanded to the whole of the Mekong.

eWater Source models are now used to simulate flows, sediment loads, nutrient levels, hydropower production, and agricultural and industrial water use to assess the impacts of water resources developments and to assess national water resource development plans from a basin-wide perspective.

Over the years, eWater has provided capacity building and technology transfer focusing on hands-on training and technical support to the Mekong River Commission Secretariat (MRCS) and MRC Member Countries (Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam). 

Mekong River Council Study

The MRC Council Study is the first water resource study of this scale for the Mekong Basin.  In 2018-19, eWater contributed to the MRC Council Study using Source to integrate information and existing SWAT basin models via plugins. 

MRC Procedures for Water Use Monitoring (PWUM)

eWater implemented pilot projects to test the Procedures for Water Use Monitoring in Laos, Thailand and Cambodia.  The MRC Water Use Monitoring procedures provide for the visualisation and analysis of trade-offs in different water management scenarios.  The implementation of the pilot projects using water resource modelling is a major step towards a basin-wide water use monitoring in the Mekong Basin.

Data and information systems upgrade

In May 2019, eWater was invited by the MRC Secretariat to support a two-year initiative to reinvigorate its data, information, modelling, forecasting and communication systems to provide enhanced and timely information to the public and MRC Member Countries. 

eWater’s involvement was funded by the Australian Government, through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The MRC’s systems upgrade covers data collection and acquisition, data and information management, data analysis and assessment, and data and information reporting and communication. The initiative will support the Secretariat to:

  • provide enhanced and timely information to the public and MRC Member Countries
  • implement key responsibilities, such as assessing the state of the Basin and tracking development in the Basin
  • respond to emerging issues, such as changes in flow regimes
  • strengthen its role as a regional knowledge hub. 

Working closely with the Secretariat and other Australian experts, we prepared a concept design for the systems upgrade, it will see a transformation in the way the Secretariat collects, analyses, uses and communicates water information. The design concept was approved by the MRC Joint Committee in November 2019.

Other important aspects of the support include training in the use of Source for water management planning and the integration of operations and flood forecasting.  In partnership with water agencies and regional modelling groups, we are also helping establish a Community of Practice and Best Practice Guidelines. Relationships with key academic and research stakeholders in the region have also been strengthened. 

The project has included close collaboration with the MRC Secretariat and experts from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, Geoscience Australia and the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, including review of existing systems, drafting of recommendations and presenting to members of the MRC and MRC Secretariat on the approaches used in Australia.

The project features as a success story in the MRC 2019 Annual Report.

Integrated Water Resources Management in Lao PDR

Water is essential to life and culture in the People’s Democratic Republic of Lao. More than third of GDP and 75% of employment comes from subsistence agriculture, which is heavily dependent on rainfall and Lao’s rivers.

Traditionally, the People’s Democratic Republic of Lao (Lao PDR) was considered a water rich country, but increasing demand for water, especially in the dry season is putting pressure on water resources. Climate change is also affecting the region, with water quality impacted by rising temperatures and water infrastructure at risk from increased flash flooding.

In response, the Government of Lao PDR is implementing a series of water reforms, including developing a National Water Resources Strategy and Action Plan 2016-2020 and major amendments to the Water and Resources Law were approved in 2017. The new law focuses on better protection of water resources and sustainable use to support national economic development.

Supporting these reforms is the World Bank funded Mekong Integrated Water Resource Management (MIWRM) program, which seeks to establish good examples of integrated water resources management practice at the local, regional and river basin scales.

Landscape view over Xe Don river in Pakse, Laos (credit: Marek/AdobeStock)

The project

eWater was engaged under the MIWRM program to support the Lao PDR Natural Resources and Environment Research Institute (NRERI) Hydrological Modelling Unit to build its capability to develop and apply water models for water resource assessment, sustainable water management and to support policy and investment decision making.

Surface water resource models for four basins; Xe Bang Fai, Xe Bang Hieng, Xe Don and Xe Kong were built and calibrated using the eWater Source platform. The models were used to evaluate:

  • total water availability from surface runoff
  • inter-basin water transfers
  • water demands and consumption for domestic, industrial and agriculture users
  • hydropower operations and production.

Water supply and demand were summarised on a monthly basis and the impacts of water resource development on natural flow patterns were evaluated.

In addition, to understand the relative impacts of different water resources development options in the Xe Kong basin, four development scenarios were assessed:

  1. current (2017) conditions
  2. hydropower development
  3. irrigation development
  4. combined development.

Each scenario was evaluated under historical climate conditions and a climate change scenario. This initial assessment seeks to demonstrate the power modelling can bring to the decision-making process and inform the development of a later detailed scenario assessment.

Overcoming data constraints

Traditionally, good water modelling relies on high-quality, measured data. However, such data is often uncommon in countries such as Lao PDR. To address this, much of the data used in the modelling came from global, remotely sensed data sets, calibrated against the limited measured data.

Despite the limited measured data, good calibration was achieved in all four basins, demonstrating that the Source model platform is an effective tool for low-data environments. Importantly, Source has the ability to incorporate additional data as it becomes available, progressively increasing reliability and accuracy over time. 


The project has helped to increase the capacity of water managers in Lao PDR to build and use water models. The four models build for the project give water managers vital information and new tools for responding to emerging water management challenges, such as:

  • annual and seasonal water availability
  • annual and seasonal water flow patterns, and how these vary from natural conditions
  • annual and seasonal water usage
  • actual and potential water shortages
  • hydropower demands and impacts on flow patterns and water balance

Example outputs from the model are shown in the figures below, they provide easy to understand, practical information to guide decision making.

Summary of basin characteristics.
NB: For Xe Bang Fai the installed capacity represents the NamTheun 2 hydropower project, which is located outside of the basin and diverts water into the basin.
Summary of average annual water demands and the deficit in supply (represented as negative values) for the four basins.

Capacity building 

Building the capability of the NRERI Hydrological Modelling team was a core focus of the project. eWater provided tailored Source training and worked closely with the team in building the four models and developing the scenarios to be tested.

Participants at a workshop to develop scenarios for the Xe Kong basin. Attendees were from NRERI, other Lao PDR government agencies, the World Bank and eWater

Customising Source to manage blackwater risks

Construction of dams, weirs and use of water for irrigation, industry and towns has meant that many aquatic and floodplain ecosystems don’t get the water they did naturally.

One way of addressing this is to construct infrastructure, such as regulators and embankments that allow water managers to simulate natural watering regimes with lower flows.

While inundation brings a range of ecological benefits, it also has the potential to cause hypoxic blackwater (low dissolved oxygen) events. Blackwater events occur when inundation washes organic material from the floodplains into waterways leading to a rise in dissolved organic carbon in the water. This causes the water to turn a dark colour. The increased bacterial activity breaking down the carbon consumes oxygen, which causes a drop in levels of dissolved oxygen. In some circumstances, levels can drop so much that fish and other aquatic organisms do not have enough oxygen and die.

Blackwater can also create challenges for downstream water use, such as increasing treatment costs for drinking water supplies.

Blackwater events are a natural feature of many river systems. However, when natural flood patterns are changed and there are longer periods between overbank flows, the amount of organic material can be substantially increased, exacerbating the risk.

Changes to the natural inundation patterns of floodplains can increase the risk of blackwater events.

The project

As part of the South Australian Riverland Floodplain Integrated Infrastructure Program (SARFIIP), the South Australian and Commonwealth governments have invested in major infrastructure upgrades to provide water to the Pike and Katarapko floodplains. The infrastructure allows the Department for the Environment and Water (DEW) to create higher water levels to inundate the wetlands, improving watering frequency and the ecological health of the floodplains.The project includes a number of initiatives to manage potential blackwater risks. This has included developing a model to help understand and predict dissolved oxygen responses to different inundation events, giving DEW important information to design watering events with reduced risk of blackwater events occurring.

Spreadsheet models were previously used to help understand blackwater risks (Howitt et al. 2007, Whitworth and Baldwin 2016, known as the Blackwater Risk Assessment Tool – BRAT). While effective for non-complex situations, DEW was unable to represent realistic hydrology, such as events where water flowed into and out of different floodplains along the river. A more sophisticated approach was required. DEW determined the best approach to be to develop a Source plugin to model blackwater processes on the floodplains.

DEW and the Murray-Darling Basin Authority use the Source modelling framework to help manage the River Murray System. The Source framework uses “plugins” as a flexible way to build additional modelling capability into model. Combined with the South Australian Source Murray Model, the new Blackwater plugin allows DEW to model interactions between the river and floodplains and the different processes that contribute to the risk of blackwater events.

The approach

Conceptually, the model is based on the original spreadsheet models and represents the key influences on the generation of blackwater events (from SMEC 2015):

  • time period since the last inundation
  • the duration and rate of inundation
  • water exchange during inundation
  • temperature
  • area of inundation
  • litter loading
  • depth of inundation
  • influence of floodplain creeks on dilution
  • river dilution flows and proximity to environmental values

In addition, the model includes location specific information such as elevation, floodplain area and litter accumulation (from vegetation type), to understand the extent of inundation and litter accumulation.

The blackwater plugin is set up to represent all of the River Murray in South Australia, to consider interactions between the river and floodplains, as well as cumulative effects from multiple operations being inundated at the same time.

Conceptual model of the processes represented in the Source Blackwater plugin
Conceptual model of the processes represented in the Source Blackwater plugin

Model performance

Model performance was tested in two ways. Firstly, simple floodplain scenarios were run through the Blackwater Risk Assessment Tool (BRAT) and the plugin. The results were comparable.

Secondly, a natural high flow event that inundated the Pike Floodplain in late 2016/early 2017 provided an opportunity to compare the model performance against observed DO data. The model compared well with the measured DO trends and magnitude but further testing under a wider range of scenarios is required to fully test the model. Notably, the event shows the importance of interactions with the river during blackwater events, as the majority of the DO decrease on the floodplain during Oct-Nov 2016 appears to relate to the low DO in the inflow water.

Modelled versus measured (at station A4260644, Pike River at Lettons downstream Rumpagunya Creek) dissolved Oxygen levels during the 2016-17 inundation event
Modelled versus measures (Station A42602644, Pike River at Lettons downstream Rumpagunyah Creek) Dissolved Oxygen levels on the Pike Floodplain during the 2016-17 inundation event.


The model supports DEW to:

  • understand the potential DO changes associated with different environmental watering actions on the floodplains
  • adjust proposed watering actions to reduce the risk of blackwater events
  • forecast potential DO changes and blackwater risks from floods, and to identify potential river operations to minimise forecast blackwater events.

The figures below are two examples of the blackwater plugins outputs. The first shows the range of floodplain inundation under five different scenarios. The second shows forecast dissolved oxygen levels for each of the scenarios.

Hypothetical scenarios of water level upstream of environmental regulators to create floodplain inundation

Scenario A represents a fast fill of the floodplain to full inundation extent, potentially resulting in DO concentrations that could be detrimental to aquatic biota. Through the use of the DODOC plugin, operations can be designed to reduce these impacts.

Project partners

This work forms part of the $155 million South Australian Riverland Floodplains Integrated Infrastructure Program (SARFIIP) to improve the health and resilience of Riverland floodplains. SARFIIP is funded by the Australian Government through the Murray–Darling Basin Authority and implemented by DEW in partnership with SA Water.

The Blackwater Plugin was developed for DEW by the University of Adelaide and Flow Matters Pty Ltd. eWater was engaged by DEW to further develop functionality and modify the plugin to better work with improvements made to the Source platform after the plugin was developed.


Howitt JA, Baldwin DS, Rees GN and Williams JL (2007). Modelling blackwater: predicting water quality during flooding of lowland river forests. Ecological Modelling 203 (3–4):229–242. doi:10.1016/j.ecolmodel.20

SMEC (2015). SARFIIP Blackwater Risk Assessment: Stage 1. Report to the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources. SMEC, Adelaide in association with Natural Logic (Karla Billington) and University of Adelaide (Luke Mosley)

Whitworth KL, Baldwin DS (2016). Improving our capacity to manage hypoxic blackwater in lowland rivers: the Blackwater Risk Assessment Tool. Ecological Modelling 320, 292–298. 06.11.017


This case study was prepared in collaboration with the SA Department for Environment and Water and Murray-Darling Basin Authority.

Arghandab Integrated Water Resource Management Project – Afghanistan

Decades of war and political instability have decimated most of Afghanistan’s water infrastructure and reduced the technical capacity of the water resources sector. 

In response, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is undertaking a range of initiatives to invest in new infrastructure,  improve water resource management and increase capability. One such initiative is the Arghandab Integrated Water Resource Management Project. 

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is supporting the Afghanistan Government to scope the Arghandab Integrated Water Resource Management Project. The project will finance infrastructure to increase water resources for irrigated agriculture, urban water supply, and power generation for Afghanistan’s second largest city Kandahar and surrounding areas.

Farmland in Kandahar (credit Paul/AdobeStock)

Using Source to support infrastructure investment

eWater was invited to provide technical assistance to the project, through a rapid hydrologic study of the Arghandab River and capacity building through training in the use of the Source modelling platform. eWater’s involvement was funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). 

eWater, in collaboration with modellers in Afghanistan built a baseline Source model for the Arghandab River Basin. The model is used to generate inflows to Dahla Dam for the period 2002 to 2016. 

The model allows different multi-sector allocation scenarios for irrigation, urban water supply, hydropower and downstream flows to be compared against each other, providing key inputs to support the decision-making process. The potential impacts of climate change on the different options is considered by modelling different inflow scenarios. 

Overcoming data constraints

Water models typically rely on observed measurements for flow, rainfall, evaporation etc. However, such data is very limited in Afghanistan.  A combination of data from historic sources and remotely sensed sources were evaluated and used to develop the Source model. The hydrology is simulated using the GR4J and GR4JSG hydrological models which, respectively, represent direct rainfall-runoff and snow melt processes. The hydrology is calibrated to historic average monthly observed values.

Given that this is a rapid study where limited time is available to explore alternate sources of data such as some of the globally generated flow sequences used for detailed climate change modelling, an expedient approach to calibrating the model was adopted.  This was to assume stationarity in average monthly flows and calibrate to observed monthly average discharge values despite differences in dates between rainfall and discharge. This averaging impacts on the predictive ability of the model for extreme events such as flash flooding associated with sudden high rainfall since extreme peaks in flows can happen at a sub-monthly scale. 

Nonetheless, the model significantly increases the information available to water managers to understand current flows and support initial investigations into the impact of changes in dam size and demand over time and with climate change. Examples of the model outputs are shown below. 

Monthly flows

Flows are highly variable, particularly during the wet season. Monthly flows are lowest in October and November, and highest in April. The figure below shows the possible range in total monthly flows predicted by the Source model, with the grey area representing modelled minimum and maximum flows for each month. The modelled period 2002 – 2016 includes the drought years of 2010  2016 as well as extreme flows observed in 2007. Mean and median flows are also indicated.

Shows the total modelled monthly inflows to the Dahla Reservoir (2002 – 2016). Flows start increasing in December, peaking in April. Flows start falling through June and July, with virtually no flow from August to November.
Range in total modelled monthly inflows to the Dahla Reservoir (2002 – 2016)

Impact of climate change on flows

The projected impact of changes in temperature and rainfall on average total monthly inflows to Dahla Dam, between the baseline period (2002 – 2016) and future 2050 are illustrated in Figure X. Expected higher temperatures will cause snow to melt sooner in the season with an increase in flow in March and less water available from May resulting in a longer low flow season.

Average total monthly flow volumes (Baseline 2002 – 2016 and 2050)

Using Source for water and catchment management in the Australian Capital Territory

Source models support strategic planning, policy development, catchment and water resource management in the Australian Capital Territory

The models underpin the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Water Strategy 2014-44 – Striking the Balance and support the ACT Government to meet its obligations under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan 2012.

Together with eWater, the ACT Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate (the Directorate) have embarked on a series of initiatives to upgrade the ACT’s Source models.

Improving water quality through wetlands like this is one in the Canberra suburb of Bonner is a central part of the ACT Water Strategy
(credit: Danswell Starrs, ACT Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate)

Audit of water models

The Directorate use several different Source models to inform strategic planning and decision-making regarding land use planning, urban development and climate change on water quantity and quality and the operation and maintenance of water infrastructure.

eWater was engaged to audit the Directorate’s existing Source models to ensure they were fit-for-purpose and could address emerging needs, including the ability to:

  • explore different policy, planning and management actions and assess potential impacts on the natural environment and water resources
  • predict impacts of land development decisions on water resources and assess mitigate measures 
  • test new ways of operating water infrastructure 
  • predict future environmental states to inform policy and management decisions, such as environmental condition and future water supply/catchment yields.

The audit identified several issues with the existing models that limited their ability to meet the current and future needs of the ACT Government. eWater recommended a substantial rebuild of the models, including:

  • Consolidating the existing nine models.
  • Utilising human-readable input sets and data sets to run scenarios, rather than individual models.  
  • Reconfiguring storages and lakes in the catchment model to better represent how they operate.  
  • Reconceptualising and recalibrating the rainfall-runoff models. 
  • Incorporating the ACT water supply system. 
  • Establishing a current conditions baseline case for scenario assessment. 
  • Preparing and justifying a baseline scenario for the comparison of land use change scenarios. 

Model rebuild

Following on from the audit, eWater was engaged to rebuild the ACT’s catchment and planning models.

eWater built two new Source models for the ACT, a catchment and a planning model.  Model performance has been improved by reducing the number of sub-catchments outside of the ACT. The new models use LASCAM (Large-Scale Catchment Model) rainfall-runoff models, allowing for physically based assessments of hydrological impacts of land use change. The catchment model now incorporates Canberra’s water supply system, including storages. The consolidation of the models allows for different policy and management options to be implemented by Scenario Input Sets.

In addition to the model re-build, the project also included collaborating with the ACT Office of the Chief Digital Officer to the integrate Source models with the ACT Government Water Data Management System. This brings two main benefits, it streamlines the transfer of data and model outputs and adds dashboarding capabilities to improve the presentation of model outputs. Integrations was achieved through a customised plug-in, developed by the eWater Software Development Team.

eWater also provided customised training to Directorate staff, to ensure they understood the Source model and were able to support its future development and application.

The updated models will support the ACT Government to better manage urban stormwater and flooding risks
(credit: Danswell Starrs, ACT Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate)


The Directorate is using the models to inform a wide range of water and catchment management activities, including to:

  • support investment in catchment remediation and
    investment, by helping identify which areas will lead to the greatest
    improvements in water quality and/or water yield
  • investigate Integrated Catchment Management
    options across the ACT and the greater region
  • understand stormwater and flooding risks in
    urban areas
  • forecast future water supply and demand
  • compare likely outcomes from different water
    efficiency initiatives
  • investigate alternative water supply options,
    such as treated effluent, grey water and stormwater for consumptive and
    non-consumptive uses
  • test different options to improve the management
    of rivers and lakes, to promote recreational use and reduce risks to public


This case study was prepared in collaboration with the ACT Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate.

Introducing MUSIC X

MUSICX is the most significant upgrade to the industry standard MUSIC in a decade.

MUSICX has been re-designed and re-written into modern software coding platform, maintaining all the capability of MUSIC V6.3 but giving users additional functionality and the benefits of modern software architecture.

The real strength of MUSICX is the ability to link your urban water quality models with your eWater Source catchment and river system models and urban demand models (Urban Developer plugin). Allowing the whole water system to be modeled with the one tool providing a platform for exploring possible interactions and new ways of managing water. 

For those who are focused on the urban context alone, MUSICX can be run separate to Source, allowing you to continue to use it the way you always have, with the benefit of modern software architecture. 

Watch the MUSICX launch video to learn more

Transitioning to MUSICX

MUSICX is a major change to the software. We know that some of our community need time to learn the new features and transition to MUSICX. To ease the transition, MUSIC 6.3.0 remains available and eWater will continue to provide support services.  

River Basin Models and Water Sharing Policy in the upper Godavari Sub-Basin, Maharashtra, India

Resolving tension between farmers upstream and downstream over water allocations in the upper Godavari River in Maharashtra was the focus of a four year engagement in the west Indian State by eWater.

The Maharashtra and New South Wales governments signed a Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation across a wide range of issues.  Under the provisions of this MOU, the Government of Maharashtra in partnership with the NSW Department of Industry, Lands and Water (then) engaged eWater to provide training, technology transfer, and ongoing support in the use of Australian river modelling technology to Maharashtra.

eWater assisted the Maharashtra Department of Water Resources to develop a modelling framework to test water management options and to support the development of an integrated water resources management (IWRM) plan for the Upper Godavari sub-basin.

Basin overview

The Godavari River basin is India’s second largest river basin, it covers 50% of the land area of Maharashtra state.  It is a complex system, with 20 dams. Water use includes irrigated crops, industry and domestic use in urban and rural areas, including drinking water.  Water availability and equitable distribution of water within the sub-basin are major public concerns that have resulted in legal challenges.

Within the sub-basin there is significant spatial and inter-annual variability in monsoon rainfall. Typically, runoff is generated in the high-rainfall, high-elevation areas of the sub-basin with little runoff generation in the area near the large Paithan irrigation dam at the outlet of the Upper Godavari. 

Paithan Dam, after upstream monsoon rains.

Project outcomes

The project had two primary outputs, a calibrated Source model for the Upper Godavari Sub-Basin and building the capacity of the Maharashtra Department of Water Resources.

eWater, in collaboration with modellers from the Maharashtra Department of Water Resources set-up and calibrated a Source model for the Upper Godavari sub-basin. The model was used to evaluate water management options to improve equitable access to water across the sub-basin. Model outputs were used to inform the integrated water resource management plan

eWater and the NSW Department of Industry, Lands and Water used outputs from the river basin models to establish and focus communication and discussion with the Maharashtra Water Resources Department about improved water management policies and governance processes to implement the objectives of the Maharashtra State Water Policy. With a key focus being improving targeted communications to farmers in the basin.

eWater delivered a comprehensive training program in the use of Source, with customised training based on the Upper Godavari model. Training was held in India and Australia, both involved a combination of hands-on desktop learning and field visits to better understand the linkages between models and on-ground water management. 

More broadly, the project brought together water managers, academics and researchers in the Upper Godavari sub-basin to establish a community of practice that allows lessons and experiences to be shared across other sub-basins in Maharashtra.

Delegates learning about modern irrigation technology in the Murray-Darling Basin.

Award winning project

The success of the project was recognized at India Water Week 2019, when the national Minister for Jal Shakti (Water Resources) presented an award to the Maharashtra Water Resources Department (WRD) for using eWater Source modelling framework to achieve equitable distribution of water in the Upper Godavari Sub-basin.

Left to right: Mr Arun Ghate (IWRM team GMIDC), Mr Jasing Hire (IWRM team GMIDC), Mr Ajay Kohirkar (Executive Director GMIDC), Mr Dilip Tawar (Chief Engineer GMIDC), Mr Rajendra Pawar (Secretary Command Area Development, WRD), Ms. Sonali Nagargoje (IWRM team GMIDC), Mr. Avirat Chavan (IWRM team GMIDC)

Melbourne Water – Improving water security with Integrated Water Resource Management

For 130 years Melbourne’s catchments and water infrastructure have provided for the water needs of Melbourne’s growing population and industry.

Population growth and climate change are putting increasing pressure on Melbourne’s traditional water supplies. Melbourne Water is working with retail water company customers to adopt a more integrated approach to delivering water services, with the aim of a city that is water sensitive, sustainable and liveable.

By adopting an Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) approach, Melbourne’s water companies are investing in a range of present or future innovative water management options, at the household, street, and suburb development scale, including:

  • recycling and reusing wastewater for things like agriculture, firefighting and dual-pipe systems that provide recycled water to homes and businesses for non-potable use like toilet flushing and watering gardens
  • recycling wastewater on site
  • capturing more stormwater for watering parks and sporting fields
  • refilling groundwater aquifers with stormwater or recycled water, for later extraction and use or to support natural environments

The IWRM approach requires a complete rethinking of the analysis of water system management. Traditional water system models are limited in their ability to analyse IWRM. Recognising this, Melbourne Water, with the support of eWater, has undertaken significant work to modernise their water resource models and to develop new tools to assess the benefits of IWRM.

Melbourne Water is increasing its use of recycled water

A new approach to water resource modelling

Work has focused on three key areas:

  • upgrading the bulk water supply infrastructure (headworks) model
  • integration with local water supply and demand models
  • new tools for improving model performance.

Source Headworks Model

For the past 25 years, Melbourne Water has used the REALM (REsource ALlocation Model) Headworks System Simulation Model. The REALM model runs on a monthly time step and is used mostly for long-term water planning. Traditional monthly timestep water resource models like REALM focus on the behaviour of the centralized bulk water supply system and have limited ability to address emerging modelling needs, such as:

Maroondah Reservoir
Melbourne Water is reducing its
reliance on traditional water supplies.
  • To what extent can small scale alternative water sources, such as greywater, recycled water or stormwater, be utilized?
  • What is the best mix of centralized and decentralized supply options?
  • How will water use change with different policy options or new approaches?
  • Where are the best locations for, or uses of decentralized systems?
  • How to leave more water for healthy river flows and reduce stormwater pollution ?

Working with eWater, Melbourne Water is in the process of replacing the REALM model with a Source model. The new model can run on both a monthly and a daily time step and includes headworks infrastructure and water supply catchments. Catchments have been added to give a better assessment of both the amount of water flowing into the reservoirs and the quality of that water. This will be important for understanding the impacts of changes in the catchment, for example after bushfires or how climate change might impact runoff and streamflows.

The monthly time step mode has been kept to support long-term water management decisions, with important improvements, including customised water allocation rules to determine allocations for primary entitlement holders, such as the water retailers and new optimization tools help assess operating strategies, to find the optimal trade-offs for different management objectives, such as cost and security of supply.

The daily time step mode supports Melbourne Water to manage environmental water in the regulated streams and to meet streamflow requirements in unregulated streams. It also facilitates smaller scale IWRM modelling and helps to better understand the potential risks to water quality. Importantly, the model has been designed to easily switch from a monthly and daily time step, allowing for better integration between short, medium and long-term operating plans.

Headworks models are designed to find the best way to meet water demands and inform the reliability of water supply. As such the representation of demands in the model is equally as important as the representation of water supplies. An innovative feature of the new model is the incorporation of spatial geographic data to better understand demand. Spatial data includes population data, dwelling types and land-use. Ultimately, it will help estimate changing water demand and the potential impact of alternate water supplies at the suburb scale.

Urban Developer in Source

The upgrades to the headworks model bring a wealth of new features to support IWRM but they do not fully take into account potential alternative water supplies, such as rainwater, stormwater and wastewater, or localized demands. A second component of the project has been to incorporate eWater’s Urban Developer tools into the Source platform. This allows local small scale water sources and demands to be considered in the context of overall large scale supply options.

Urban Developer can now estimate urban water demands based on a suburb’s characteristics and how they might change, for example with population growth, dwelling type, the adoption of Water Sensitive Urban Design approaches or alternative water supplies like rainwater tanks. The approach was tested across four catchments and the model calibrated for the Melbourne region. The Urban Developer plugin to Source was developed to feed the outputs of the Urban Developer demand model into the Source Headworks Model.

An important aspect of the work was looking for more sophisticated ways to estimate demand and to differentiate between indoor/outdoor water use, and commercial and industrial water use. For example, we can now test if including information on household income or lot size provides more accurate water use estimates.

The Source Urban Developer plugin allows detailed analysis of urban water use

Improving model performance

Running large, complex models for different scenarios takes a lot of computing power and time. Melbourne Water uses optimization tools to inform water resource decisions by assessing how to maximise the reliability of supply and reduce delivery costs. With the enhanced model functionality, it would take a month to process Melbourne Water’s optmisation runs on a standard computer, even longer if new requirements, such as environmental flow delivery and integrated demand management options were included.

Working with eWater, a cloud-based run manager was set up to enable large numbers of simulations to be run across hundreds of virtual machines. A common web browser interface gives access to different run locations, including a local (single PC) and the Cloud (hundreds of virtual machines). Run times have been reduced to a number of hours.

In addition to saving time, the system is easy to install and use, does not require specialist knowledge and reduces the costs associated with owning and maintaining significant amounts of hardware. A particular advantage is that jobs can be tested locally before launching on the cloud, reducing the risk of minor errors negating the final results and the modellers can continue working on other projects while the simulation is being run.

Following the initial success, work is underway to expand the type of jobs that can be run on the cloud and to make Source and the optimisation tool, Insight, more cloud friendly.


The project has delivered significant improvements to Melbourne Water’s modelling tools. Innovative projects like these require flexibility, new ways of thinking and a high degree of collaboration. eWater and Melbourne Water have worked closely together throughout the process, proposing and testing different methods, refining and adapting along the way. A key aspect was including Melbourne Water in the software development process and allowing them to work directly with eWater to scope and prioritise software improvements.

Using Australian water tools to develop new drought metrics for Cambodia

eWater, Geoscience Australia (GA) and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) collaborated to pilot using space-based data to forecast streamflows and water availability.

With the support of the Australian Water Partnership, eWater, GA and the BOM worked with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for the Asia Pacific (UNESCAP) to develop new metric’s for the their ‘Regional Cooperative Mechanism for Drought Monitoring and Early Warning in Asia and the Pacific’ (the Regional Drought Mechanism)

The project integrated three leading Australian tools for water management:

  • Australia’s National Hydrology Modelling Platform – eWater Source
  • GA’s Open Data Cube for accessing and managing space-based data
  • the BOM’s streamflow forecasting tools

The pilot project integrated the three tools, to develop streamflow and water availability forecasts from space-based data. Traditionally, such information requires significant on-ground data and complex analysis tools. The pilot highlights the potential of the integrated suite of tools to significantly increase the information available to water and agricultural managers and farmers to anticipate and plan for drought conditions.

Further, the use of Open Data Cube technology enabled many Source model inputs to be generated automatically, reducing the time to build the model, potentially making modelling more accessible to water managers.

The information was made available in a relatively simple format and accessed through mobile technology via https://escap.ewater.org.au/

Read more

As this image shows, water levels in Cambodia are highlighly variable. Metrics such as those produced in the pilot provide more information to help Cambodian water managers and users adapt. (credit: simoscalise/ Adobe Stock)

Building water modelling capacity in Egypt

Online training in Source helps build water modelling capacity in Egypt.

Following a request from the Embassy of Egypt in Canberra, eWater established relations with the Egyptian Department of Water Resources and Irrigation and assisted Department water managers to build capacity in water management modelling and scenario analysis.

The project had three phases:

  • On-line training packages on the generic aspects of Source and was provided online from Canberra.
  • Face-to-face training, which included the Egyptian modellers collecting data for and developing a pilot model for an irrigation district in the Nile River basin. This was complemented by a field visit.
  • Post training support, by email and webinars.

Face to face training in Egpyt

Representatives from the DFAT Cairo Post and eWater meeting with the Minister for Water Resources and Irrigation

Source Proficiency & Certification

As part of our eWater Academy, we are enhancing our Source training packages to provide a structured pathway to certification in Source Modelling for Industry, Governments and Development Partners.   From July 2019, we are launching five tiers of training which will lead to certification in the use and customization of Source, Australia’s National Hydrological Modelling System.

  •      Fundamentals in Source Hydrological Modelling
  •      Advanced Topics in Source Hydrological Modelling
  •      Source Catchment and Water Quality Modelling Specialist
  •      Source Modelling to support Water Resources Assessments and Water Sharing Planning
  •     Source Customisation Specialist (for ICT Professionals)

This new tiered structure is a step towards establishing a certification scheme that formally recognises proficiency in using Source. We are partnering with accrediting bodies and leading academic institutes to develop modules that will lead to a formal certificate in Water Resources and Catchment Modelling.   Why are we doing this?   Water managers rely on reliable, repeatable and robust hydrological models. They need to be confident that models are being built and applied to an appropriate standard.   In March 2019, the COAG National Water Reform Committee endorsed continued support for the National Hydrological Modelling Strategy (NHMS) and in June 2019, the signatories to the National Collaboration Framework agreed to continue funding of eWater Source as the National Hydrological Modelling Platform. With Source projected for full adoption by most State Governments and the Murray-Darling River Basin Authority (MDBA) within the next two years, the time is right for Industry to skill up in Source to meet the demand for Source modelling expertise. In response to a call from our Government and Agency Partners, eWater is providing a pathway to skills development, so that competent Source users can demonstrate that they have the knowledge and skills to develop and apply Source models to the standards required.   By completing the suite of training products, Source users will be able to demonstrate they have the right knowledge and skills to do the job.  

What’s changing?
There will be minimal changes to our popular Source Fundamental training courses. We will continue to run a limited number of Fundamentals courses in capital cities and in our new training centre in Canberra Upcoming training   We currently run our advanced or customised training on request from organisations. Under the new approach, we will now offer these programs more regularly, as a structured program of advanced and specialist courses in Source Hydrological Modelling. 

In addition to the current Certificate of Attendance, on completion of
any course, participants will be able to apply for a Certificate of
Proficiency in that aspect of Source modelling. Certification will give
assurance that the hydrologists has the skills and competency to build
reliable models.

Our new training courses are described below.

Introducing the eWater Academy Training Centre

We have recently established the eWater Academy Training Centre in our
Canberra office. This will be the hub for our new training program,
especially the advanced courses. Being in Canberra, also has the
advantage of giving participants greater access to eWater’s Source
modelling expertise and to Canberra’s well-established Source community.

WaterTools: a guide to three national level platforms to support the management of Australia’s scarce water resources.