Watering ecosystems by tapping into science

View story in H20 Thinking

Allocating scarce water resources and investment to allow native fish and riverside vegetation to grow, alongside agricultural crops, livestock and humans, is not an easy task. It involves very complex trade-offs, and considerable understanding of ecology, biology and physical processes.

Knowledge is rapidly improving in these areas - both in the science of predicting ecosystem responses to management activities, and in understanding of the uncertainties involved in predicting those responses.

To enable the water-industry to tap into this growing knowledge and understanding, a new comprehensive software tool, eWater Eco Modeller is being built by eWater CRC.

The tool has several key features. It:

  • Comprises an accessible and growing library of ecological knowledge, along with information about the sources of that knowledge;
  • Applies that knowledge-base along with data the user puts in (such as time-series of flow, temperature, etc.) to produce predictions of ecological conditions that would result from a given management activity; and
  • Records the inputs and outputs so that decisions can be discussed constructively before being implemented, and also staff can later revisit old decisions, whether to reuse them or to upgrade them as ecological predictive capacity improves.