Meet Shreya Gyawali, Australian Water Partnerships

Shreya Gyawali, Senior Program Officer, Australian Water Partnerships

“Our work directly impacts people’s lives. Knowing that my day-to-day contributions at work could positively influence someone’s life is a significant motivator to keep going.”

It is this kind of thinking that makes eWater Group an exceptional place to work. Our people – like Shreya Gyawali – bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to our organisation but it is the willingness to making a difference in the lives of vulnerable people and their communities that is truly exceptional.

We are an organisation dedicated to delivering water management expertise and tools in Australia and internationally through our three divisions – the Australian Water Partnership, eWater Solutions, and Mekong Water Solutions.

The Australian Water Partnership (AWP) is a key part of Australia’s support for sustainable water resources management in South Asia, the Mekong region, and the Pacific. Working closely with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, AWP supports a range of activities that draw on Australian expertise to respond to assistance from our international partners and governments.

In her role as AWP’s Senior Program Officer, Shreya has a whole raft of responsibilities including managing and engaging on international and national events for AWP but just as important, if not more, leading the Gender, Equality, Disability, and Social Inclusion (or GEDSI) portfolio within AWP.

Shreya works with the AWP program team to better integrate GEDSI across all activities, as well as lead on internal policy reviews and implementation processes. It is one of our critical roles within AWP.

“AWP’s commitment to advancing Gender Equality, Disability, and Social Inclusion (GEDSI) in partnership with different organisations in Australia and overseas is a significant reason of why I work at AWP.”

Water has always played a big role in Shreya’s life. Having worked in the development sector in her hometown of Kathmandu, Nepal, prior to moving to Australia to complete her Master’s in Applied Anthropology and Participatory Development from the Australian National University Shreya participated in field visits to see first-hand the impacts of water stress on women and girls.

“Issues like water insecurity disproportionately impacts women and girls. It impacts their education, hygiene, and safety, and as they usually have the responsibility of fetching water- also impacts their time. These issues are embedded within cultural contexts and social norms and become further exacerbated in the face of climate change as well as in crisis scenarios.

“Water issues are personal issues for women and girls. Creating change in this space will mean having the ability to influence people’s attitudes, beliefs, and behaviour – which is what I would like to do, and being in this sector is a great platform to meet like-minded people and create momentum for that change.”

Now working at AWP for nearly two years, Shreya has represented AWP at major national and international events, including SIWI World Water Week 2022 in Stockholm where she collaborated with water leaders from Australia and the region to share knowledge and successes.  She is on her own leadership journey as one of AWP’s Young Water Professionals and brings her passion and unique perspective to her work every day. 

“Being a Nepali woman with my own cultural experiences and having seen the lived realities of people back home, I am aspiring to be a change agent and champion for people in my community, and I see this as a step towards making that happen.”

“There is a crucial need to recognise and accept the different forms of knowledge that inform solutions to the challenges of climate change; cultural, Indigenous, technical, and local knowledge and find ways to better integrate them together.”

It is this commitment to changing how we engage with communities, develop policies and programs on water management, and think more strategically about our water resources, which remains central to the work of AWP and eWater Group.

Who are we?

eWater Group is owned by the Australian Federal, State and Territory governments to further develop Australia’s world-class modelling tools and to provide support and training nationwide and internationally.

Our organisation is comprised of three divisions – eWater Solutions, the Australian Water Partnership and the Mekong Water Solutions to deliver water management solutions for communities in Australia and overseas.

We also partner with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and research groups and institutions to provide expertise and support for sustainable water management solutions in Australia and internationally, now and into the future.

National Science Week 2023

Celebrating Australian science and technology and the power of people

The sustainable management of water is critical for all life on earth and the wellbeing of our society. As the driest inhabited continent on earth, Australia is well-placed to understand the complexity of protecting and managing our water resources and has become an internationally recognised leader in water policy and management.

We are marking National Science Week 2023 by acknowledging and celebrating the people and science behind the work we do at eWater Group.

We are committed to the pursuit of sustainable management of water resources through the development and sharing of best practices, capabilities, and knowledge of Australian water expertise, nationally and internationally.

Our people are hydrologists, academics, software developers, sales and project managers public policy and water industry experts and innovators who are all here to find water management solutions for the benefit of all people and their communities.

We develop and deliver Australia’s National Hydrological Modelling Platform on behalf of all Australian governments through eWater Solutions; and deliver international development programs on behalf of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, including through the Australian Water Partnership and Mekong Water Solutions.

We provide creative, science-based, and trusted water management expertise, products and services for people, communities, livelihoods, and environment impacted by many factors, including climate change.

From our beginnings as a Cooperative Research Centre Program to the organisation we are today; eWater Group has evolved to occupy a unique place in Australia’s water management and international cooperation ecosystem, including custodianship of the eWater Source platform.  

eWater Source supports integrated planning, operations, and governance from urban to catchment to river basin scales including taking human and ecological influences into account. It accommodates diverse climatic, geographic, water policy and governance settings for both Australian and international climatic conditions. 

eWater Source is the largest scientific software in use by the Australian Government, blending science insights with technological innovation to maintain the National Hydrological Modelling Platform.

Our world-class platform translates water-science outcomes into software to enable all Australian governments and our partners to harness data-derived insights and use scientific outputs in their decision making.

eWater Source has been applied extensively in a wide range of real-world water use situations, both in Australia and internationally, supporting the management of rivers in Australia, the Mekong region, across South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

Alongside eWater Source, we also have eWater MUSIC and Urban Developer models which are designed to manage the interaction between various water supply systems as well as capture all water cycle components including rainfall and stormwater runoff, potable water, and the recycling / reuse of wastewater. These tools enable robust and reliable decision-making for secure urban water supplies.

To achieve positive outcomes across all sectors – food security, energy security, climate resilience, biodiversity and ecosystem health, and disaster management – water security is paramount. And as climate change accelerates the challenges, international cooperation to share learning is increasingly important.

A key part of Australia’s support for climate resilient water management in South-East Asia, South Asia, and the Pacific, is through our work within the Australian Water Partnership, which works closely with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and over 200 Australian partners across the public and private sectors.

The Australian Water Partnership supports a range of activities that draw on Australian expertise to respond to assistance from our international partners and governments, including on river basins, irrigation modernisation, integrated urban water management and environmental water.

This week gives cause for us to acknowledge this collective commitment as an organisation, and individuals, to finding water management solutions which is why we want to acknowledge and celebrate National Science Week.

As the impacts of climate change and other environmental factors continue to grow and exacerbate water security, eWater Group is best placed to provide support, program delivery and training for the protection of our most precious resource. 

Who are we?

eWater Group is owned by the Australian Federal, State and Territory governments to further develop Australia’s world-class modelling tools and to provide support and training nationwide and internationally.

Our organisation is comprised of three divisions – eWater Solutions, the Australian Water Partnership and the Mekong Water Solutions to deliver water management solutions for communities in Australia and overseas.

We also partner with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and research groups and institutions to provide expertise and support for sustainable water management solutions in Australia and internationally, now and into the future.

A recap on MODSIM 2023

With MODSIM 2023 now done, we are taking the opportunity to recap our time at this critical conference and how important it is for modellers from a diverse range of fields to showcase the latest science and technology and how it is applied by the global water modelling and community.

Last month, Darwin played host to the 25th International Congress on Modelling and Simulation – otherwise known as MODSIM – where modellers from across Australia descended on the balmy city to talk about water modelling, including the use of emerging technologies to improve modelling practice and the use of modelling to find new solutions to solve the growing impact of climate change in our waterways and environment.

eWater Group Hydrologists, Dr Jin Wang and Sudeep Nair represented our organisation at MODSIM, where we were a sponsor, to facilitate sessions related to hydrological modelling and showcase the new functionalities of Australia’s National Hydrological Modelling Platform, eWater Source, and how it helps water managers to meet the changing needs in water resources management.

Sudeep said “it was great to see how various users unravel the many facets of eWater Source and understand how it is helping the users to achieve their objectives. We heard their experiences and feedback, which helped us to understand the strength of Source as a hydrological modelling tool and areas for potential enhancement.”

“MODSIM was also a great opportunity for us [hydrologists] to introduce eWater Source to a wider audience who were not so familiar with the tool, and a chance to update ourselves on the latest trends and techniques in water and environmental modelling.”

One of the more interesting observations from our hydrologists was from other presenters at the conference who demonstrated the versatility and agility of Source as a hydrological modelling tool and how modellers were using it for bespoke applications.

“One of the many advantages of eWater Source is that it can handle both water quantity and quality aspects and has many functionalities specific for Australian purposes,” Sudeep said.

With any science-based software and technology tools, there is also room for improvements in areas such as stability, accuracy, and performance improvements, and eWater Group is diligent in improving our software platforms to enable our owners, partners and water experts have an enriched user experience.

For our hydrologists, Dr Wang and Sudeep Nair, MODSIM provided a great back drop to generate interest and discussion on hydrologically modelling methods in general and eWater Source in particular.

Both Sudeep and Dr Wang co-presented a session with Rachael Holden from Power and Water Cooperation: Providing Water for All: Modelling to Improve Water Security for Communities, the Environment and Industry, which helped spearhead conversations on the impact of water modelling to inform decision-makers and the role of eWater Source.

To read the full abstract from Sudeep Nair > https://lnkd.in/eDzNiybjhttps://ewater.org.au/3443-2/ and for Samira Azadi (who was unfortunately a last-minute cancellation) > https://ewater.org.au/3443-2/.

Conferences like MODSIM play a significant role in the water space. It is an avenue for learning, networking, and informing of the latest research and modelling outcomes in Australia and beyond; and an important opportunity for eWater Group and our people to showcase who we are and what we are doing to address the new challenges in the hydrological modelling realm.

Who are we?

eWater Group is owned by the Australian Federal, State and Territory governments to further develop Australia’s world-class modelling tools and to provide support and training nationwide and internationally.

Our organisation is comprised of three divisions – eWater Solutions, the Australian Water Partnership and the Mekong Water Solutions to deliver water management solutions for communities in Australia and overseas.

We also partner with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and research groups and institutions to provide expertise and support for sustainable water management solutions in Australia and internationally, now and into the future.

Meet Rohan Kent, Australian Water Partnership

Our people who represent our organisation are exceptional. Our people bring years – in many cases decades – of experience from a diverse range of industries, including international development, science and technology, academia, public policy, project management, sales, and more.

We are an organisation dedicated to delivering water management expertise and tools in Australia and internationally through our three divisions – the Australian Water Partnership, eWater Solutions, and Mekong Water Solutions.

The Australian Water Partnership (AWP) is a key part of Australia’s support for sustainable water resources management in South Asia, the Mekong region, and the Pacific. Working closely with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, AWP supports a range of activities that draw on Australian expertise to respond to assistance from our international partners and governments.

As the AWP Program Lead, Rohan Kent plays a critical role in our international program of activities, overseeing a diverse range of projects across the Indo-Pacific in river basin and water resources planning, urban and rural water, agriculture, flood and drought management, and climate resilience.

Prior to joining AWP in 2021, Rohan worked across several sectors, including health, education, humanitarian and international development, and Indigenous community programs, including Save The Children Australia as its Deputy Humanitarian Director, and at the Australian Civil-Military Centre in its Concepts and Capabilities Unit.

“Most of my career has been based around working with vulnerable communities through international development and a rights-based programming lens. Within these roles, I have worked closely with multiple stakeholders – many with differing or competing perspectives. This has helped me not only appreciate the need to take time to design projects carefully so there is not only a focus on sustainable outcomes but also ensure they are delivered in an efficient and effective way.”

“With any role or project, I believe effective communication cannot be underestimated; this helps to promote ownership and create a supportive environment around the project. And of course, it would be remiss of me not to mention how important accountability is within the project management cycle and how it must be encouraged so responsibility for actions is ensured.”

In addition, Rohan has worked across several development and disaster settings, implementing integrated programs in the protection, WASH, food security and livelihoods, and health sectors in the Philippines, Fiji, Pakistan, Iraq, and South Sudan.

While bringing decades of experience to AWP and its partners is nothing short of invaluable, it is Rohan’s understanding of the development sector, together with his compassion for the needs of the world’s most vulnerable people, that sets Rohan apart from others.

“Water security is a challenge that impacts us all. It’s not just about the ability to provide for industrial, agricultural, recreational, energy, and domestic needs. While these are important, we also need to consider the integrity and sustainability of our surrounding ecosystems.”

“It’s important that as Australians we continue to be involved in discussions around water security if we want Australia – and our neighbours – to enjoy continued sustainable development, the preservation of the environmental, and poverty reduction.”

“After all, as Australia, we have much to contribute given we have the privilege of having the oldest, continuing living culture in the world, who can share their knowledge and learnings on caring for water and waterways and promoting better water security.”

It is this commitment to finding solutions to real-world challenges facing communities impacted by climate change, access to water supply, and quality, that drives Rohan and his team to do more. 

“Continuing the conversation doesn’t always mean we are the ones talking. Being present is important but so is acting with humility and patience in this space when we are engaging in conversation. My experience across the world in the aid and development sector has taught me to focus on ‘listening’ as well as to talk at the appropriate time.”

“We must listen to what rights holders and duty bearers’ needs are and work with them in partnership to drive innovative solutions and not just impose what we think they need upon them, no matter how good we think our solutions might be.”

“I remember listening to representatives from the Kaurna people at this year’s AWP Partners Workshop. They spoke of the need for people to take more time to listen to what the environment around us is saying. Indigenous knowledge is a critical source of water science.  We need to recognise its value, and the ways that we can both share and learn from in this space.”

It is this level of commitment by Rohan to the vision and mission of AWP, and the wider eWater Group, that enables our organisation to have an indelible impact on the lives of people and their communities within Australia and internationally.

Who are we?

eWater Group is owned by the Australian Federal, State and Territory governments to further develop Australia’s world-class modelling tools and to provide support and training nationwide and internationally.

Our organisation is comprised of three divisions – eWater Solutions, the Australian Water Partnership and the Mekong Water Solutions to deliver water management solutions for communities in Australia and overseas.

We also partner with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and research groups and institutions to provide expertise and support for sustainable water management solutions in Australia and internationally, now and into the future.

eWater Group celebrates 10 years.

eWater Group celebrates 10 years of water expertise in Australia and internationally

This year marks ten years of eWater Group, and we recently took the opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate our achievements so far and the challenges that we have faced as an organisation over the past decade.

Representatives from across Federal, State, and Territory governments, the private sector, research, and international institutions, recently came together at a special event in Canberra to celebrate eWater Group and its divisions, and our work in Australia, the Mekong, and the Indo-Pacific region.

Since our inception, we have led the way in delivering water management, water security, and sustainability solutions through our expertise, knowledge, program delivery, and water modelling tools and services.

Michael Wilson, Group CEO, said the event was a great opportunity for employees, our owners, and partners to acknowledge the collective efforts by all to deliver water management expertise and tools to meet both the Australian and international needs and the increasing pressure of climate change on our environment.

“I thank our owners and partners for the support and collaboration that have shown eWater Group over the past ten years and now into the future. With this support, our organisation will continue to grow and reinforces Australia as a leader in water management, water security, and sustainability, here and internationally.”

While we acknowledge our achievements over the past decade, we are now looking ahead to the future as eWater Group, and its divisions continue to deliver new programs as well as strengthen and create new partnerships in Australia and internationally.

Sharing Australian water expertise, globally

Our Hydrology team recently joined experts in the Mekong region for a regional training modelling tools program.

Sharing best practices, capabilities, and knowledge of Australian water expertise globally is our mission at eWater Group.

Our people – across eWater Solutions, the Australian Water Partnership, and Mekong Water Solutions – work incredibly hard in the pursuit of sustainable management of water resources.

Members of our Hydrology team – Juanita Moolman, Paradis Someth, Samira Azadi, and Sudeep Nair – recently joined experts from six Mekong countries to run a regional training modelling tools program as part of a joint study.

The Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) and the Mekong River Commission (MRC) are conducting a joint study on the changing hydrological conditions of the Lower Mekong River Basin. The study aims to develop adaption strategies that address the flooding and drought risks caused by climate change across the river basin.

Paradis Someth, Principal Hydrologist, eWater Group, said “As part of the study, our eWater Group Hydrology Team joined by water modelling experts from across the Mekong region to provide hands-on training and expertise on using, eWater Source to gain a better understanding of this tool and how it can help in impact assessment.”

“eWater Group has a long and proud history of supporting water resource management in the Mekong region. eWater Group’s three divisions – eWater Solutions, Australian Water Partnership, and Mekong Water Solutions – play a critical role in shaping Australia’s technology and helping to build capabilities in the region.”

Australia has been a partner of the Mekong River Commission (MRC) since its inception in 1995. The MRC is an intergovernmental organisation, established “to help the lower Mekong countries build consensus around solutions that ensure a sustainable future for the Mekong and its people through river basin monitoring, assessment, data and information sharing, and dialogue and cooperation.”

Since 2013, eWater Group has supported the MRC and its four member countries (Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam) to enhance the management of the Mekong River’s water for the benefit of all who depend on it.

To learn more about our partnership with the Mekong River Commission read the full story > https://ewater.org.au/ewater-group-and-its-partnership-with-mekong-river-commission/

For more information eWater Source > https://ewater.org.au/products/ewater-source/

Reach out to our team for more > https://ewater.org.au/contact-us/  

Meet Samira Azadi, Hydrologist

Understanding the movement of water in rivers, lakes, dams, and seas, together with the effects of climate change on an increasingly changing environment requires a wealth of knowledge… and a Master’s or other higher degree can help.

Meet Samira Azadi, one of our hydrologists with a Masters in Water Engineering from Iran’s Shiraz University and a Master of Philosophy (MPhil) in Civil Engineering – Water and Environmental – from the University of Newcastle. As an experienced Water and Environmental Engineer, Samira plays a key role in supporting our National Hydrological Modelling Platform, eWater Source.

After completing her MPhil, Samira decided to make Australia her home and moved to Canberra to join eWater Group in 2021 and has been making her mark ever since.

“I wanted to live in Australia because I found Australians are very friendly and welcoming. It feels like a big diverse community. I love that we love our jobs, but it is part of what we do, not everything we do. There is so much more to explore.”  

For Samira, working as an eWater Group Hydrologist, enables her to continue her passion for hydrology and eco-hydrologic modelling, and offering support and advice to our partners across each state and territory to deliver innovative solutions to support sustainable water for cities and communities across Australia and the world.

“I love my job. I am passionate about what I do. And if I want to describe eWater in only one word I would say eWater is a dynamic organisation.”

“I am able to learn new things every day, and share my knowledge and experience with my colleagues, including fellow hydrologists and developers, but also support our partners to deliver water solutions for their communities.”

“My fellow hydrologists empower me and create opportunities for me to learn so I can be the best at my role. I love that my team is so supportive.”  

For Samira, working as an eWater Group Hydrologist, enables her to continue her passion for hydrology and eco-hydrologic modelling, and offering support and advice to our partners across each state and territory to deliver innovative solutions to support sustainable water for cities and communities across Australia and the world.

“I think eWater Source is an incredible tool. Being the national hydrological platform means that everyone is getting consistent data and information to make informed decisions about hydrology, catchments, and river systems.”

“From the moment that the first raindrop comes from the sky to where it lands and how it seeps through the soil, we can show our partners this critical information through dynamic data. This helps them make the right decisions regarding how our water resources are used and where.”

Source helps water experts with all climates and environments and is adaptable and readily updated to include new policy, data, knowledge, and management approaches. It offers the flexibility and ability to link to new and existing models and other information systems; and has been built in partnership with governments, industry, and research organisations.

For Samira the critical issue facing water sustainability and hydrology is data, and ensuring we continue to have the right data with real-time information for our partners and clients. By continuing to invest in Source, we can deliver the best information available to make the right decisions to enhance our ability to manage water sustainability, scarcity, and resilience.

Who are we?

eWater Group is owned by the Australian Federal, State and Territory governments to further develop Australia’s world-class modelling tools and to provide support and training nationwide and internationally.

Our organisation is comprised of three divisions – eWater Solutions, the Australian Water Partnership and the Mekong Water Solutions to deliver water management solutions for communities in Australia and overseas.

We also partner with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and research groups and institutions to provide expertise and support for sustainable water management solutions in Australia and internationally, now and into the future.

Climate change is increasing water scarcity

Climate change is increasing water scarcity

by Damien Pearson, General Manager, eWater Solutions

Climate change is one of the defining challenges of this century. 

Water is the primary expression of the effects climate change has on humanity and the environment manifesting itself through droughts, floods, water stress, and declining water quality. In many countries reliable supplies of freshwater are becoming scarce, undermining economic growth, increasing poverty, placing vulnerable people at risk and further disadvantage, and damaging the environment on which all life depends. The “livelihood crises” caused by the climate crisis have been identified by the World Economic Forum as “one of the most potentially severe risks over the next decade.” [i]

Effective management of water resources in the face of changing climate is essential to achieving all 17 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals agreed by all nations in 2015. 

How Australia can make a difference

As the driest inhabited continent on earth, Australia has become an internationally recognized leader in water policy and management.

Our sought-after expertise includes advice on transparent water allocation systems, efficient irrigation practices, and technologies, drought mitigation measures, allocation of environmental water flows, as well as reforms in urban water and sanitation. 

Importantly in the context of climate change, Australia’s reforms include an explicit focus on economic efficiency and environmental sustainability.[i] However, Australia is a continent with many different climate zones and many different water use profiles.[ii] 

Consequently, Australian states and territories have had to develop water governance frameworks appropriate to their climate and environmental contexts while maintaining content and coherence with national plans and agreements. One size does not fit all.

eWater Source, Australia’s agreed National Hydrological Modelling Platform (NHMP), supports integrated planning, operations, and governance from urban to catchment to river basin scales including taking human and ecological influences into account. Source accommodates diverse climatic, geographic, water policy and governance settings for both Australian and international climatic conditions. 

Our platform integrates water resource assessment and policy, to produce water accounts and manage rivers, and share water according to allocations and agreements.

eWater Source has become an important tool for understanding water supply and demand, managing allocations between users, and delivering water when and where it is needed.

Designed to be adaptive and readily customized to meet local or specific needs, eWater Source is underpinned by world-class science and technical innovation, and assists in the following broad areas:

  • Assessing climate change impacts on water availability and demand over time
  • Establishing effective water policies, regulatory systems, and institutions to enable infrastructure investments (governance policies and systems)
  • Collecting and managing water data and developing water information systems
  • Enabling water allocations and management of river basins and urban water supply

eWater Source has been applied and validated extensively in a wide range of real-world water use situations, both in Australia and internationally, supporting the management of rivers in Australia, the Mekong region, across South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

Growing urban demand

Our world is rapidly becoming more urbanized. In 2018, 55 percent of the world’s population was living in urban areas, a proportion that is expected to increase to 68 percent by 2050. Projections show that urbanisation, combined with the overall growth of the world’s population could add another 2.5 billion people to urban areas by 2050, with close to 90 per cent of this increase taking place in Asia and Africa, according to United Nations data set[1].

With a growing focus on meeting a more spatially concentrated water demand, planners require tools to understand their water supply and drainage options and constraints, along with means to assess alternative scenarios to manage these. Water-sensitive urban design (WSUD) seeks to blend traditional rainfall-dependent and alternative water supplies (such as recycled water, and rainwater tanks) to enhance water security.

To understand this blend of supplies and potential trade-offs, eWater MUSIC and Urban Developer models are designed to manage the interaction between various water supply systems as well as capture all water cycle components including rainfall and stormwater runoff, potable water, and the recycling / reuse of wastewater. These tools enable robust and reliable decision-making for secure urban water supplies.

Climate Change is exacerbating the water scarcity crisis through changing weather patterns and increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events.  The water challenge has become “too much, too little, or too polluted”.

Climate change adaptation primarily demands climate-resilient water management and eWater is ready to share its experience and tools to assist countries facing persistent poverty and disadvantage resulting from the impacts of climate-driven water scarcity. 

eWater Group is jointly established and owned by the Australian Federal and all State and Territory governments to maintain and further develop Australia’s internationally respected water modelling tools, and to provide support, program delivery, and training domestically and internationally. 

[1] 68% of the world population projected to live in urban areas by 2050, says UN | UN DESA | United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs,

[i] Aither 2022 Governance as Infrastructure for Water Security.


[ii] Productivity Commission, National Water Reform 2020, Inquiry Report. p68

Meet Sudeep Nair, Hydrologist

We are continuing the Meet Our People series where we put the spotlight on the people that make up eWater Group. We are an organisation focused on delivering smart, sustainable water management solutions in Australia and internationally.

Sudeep Nair is one of our hydrological experts who has been working within our organisation and supporting our partners and clients nationally, and internationally, for nearly two years now, in addition to his 10 years of experience in the field of water resources management and modelling.

Sudeep’s interest in water resources began when he started his postgraduate studies at IIT Kharagpur leading him to pursue his doctoral studies in Environmental Hydrology and Water Resources, and eventually academia. But the urge to work on real-world water resource problems and water modelling was too great, and Sudeep made the leap from research to eWater Group.

As one of our hydrologists, Sudeep works on Australia’s National Hydrological Modelling Platform, eWater Source, and MUSIC, and supports this country’s most prominent government and non-government organisations to find solutions to support sustainable water management.

“I get the opportunity to involve in both the development of the tools and their application to solve real-world water management problems. Moreover, I am part of the team which supports the adoption and use of our software products through various training programs.”

Acting as a bridge between our customers, who include hydrologists and water modellers, and the software developer team, Sudeep identifies, tests, and reviews their models to ensure there are working at optimum levels to deliver high-quality water data and information in real time.

“I don’t have a typical day [at eWater Group] which is why I like working at our organisation. The hydrology team is a small and cohesive team, and we get the opportunity to get involved in almost all activities such as the development of new functionalities in Source and MUSIC, software maintenance and support, modelling, supporting clients and partners, and training.”

While our hydrology team may be small, it has a huge impact. “As a key member in a small team, my suggestions and feedback are heard and valued. It feels like a family here in eWater. I am also given the opportunity to undertake various training to regularly update my skills and knowledge.”

Like any industry, we face many challenges in water management and delivering high-quality data and information to a growing audience in Australia and internationally. For eWater Group our focus is offering Australian governments, water experts and institutions here and abroad the highest of expertise, knowledge, and support.

For Sudeep, the challenge we face is the need for clarity amongst modellers regarding the selection of appropriate water modelling tool to address changing and emerging needs of water managers.

“eWater Source [the National Hydrological Modelling Platform] is different and is increasingly being adopted in Australia which enables uniformity and comparison, along with [our other modelling platform] MUSIC, which is already used widely in Australia for urban water modelling purposes.

eWater Source, and MUSIC, are constantly evolving tools, with more capabilities and functionalities added to our toolkit based on customer feedback and requests. It is this continued drive to deliver better support and services which “make eWater tools ready for assessing new water-related challenges in the wake of climate change and other pressures.”

Who are we?

eWater Group is owned by the Australian Federal, State and Territory governments to further develop Australia’s world-class modelling tools and to provide support and training nationwide and internationally.

Our organisation is comprised of three divisions – eWater Solutions, the Australian Water Partnership and the Mekong Water Solutions to deliver water management solutions for communities in Australia and overseas.

We also partner with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and research groups and institutions to provide expertise and support for sustainable water management solutions in Australia and internationally, now and into the future.

Meet Our People – Daxa Bhudia, Software Developer

We are diverse, and experienced, and most importantly we have a strong heritage of supporting sustainable water management.

We are incredibly lucky to have an organisation with people like Daxa Bhudia, our Software Developer, who brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to eWater Group.

Daxa has worked in the IT industry in both Australia and internationally for over eight years, and at eWater she is responsible for working on Australia’s National Hydrological Modelling Platform, eWater Source.

Daxa’s love for software development and IT began early in the halls of her high school in Bhuj, India, and led her to complete her bachelor’s degree in IT. From there, Daxa worked across various domains including accounting, ERP systems, supply chain management, healthcare, logistics, petroleum, and manufacturing, before she entered the world of hydrology and science and joined eWater in 2022.

“I was amazed with the products developed at eWater that how it helps so much across the world for managing water resources and water quality.”          

“The region from where I come is very dry with low rainfall near to a salt desert in Kutch, [a district of Gujarat state in western India]. I have seen water crises in my childhood and heard stories from my parents about having to walk for so long in the morning just to get drinkable water. Even this is still the case in some of the regions in India.”

eWater Group is owned by Australian Federal, State and Territory governments to maintain and further develop Australia’s world-class modelling tools, and to provide support and training nationwide and internationally. The Group manages three divisions – eWater Solutions, Australian Water Partnership and Mekong Water Solutions – to deliver water management solutions for communities in Australia and overseas.

Daxa is a critical member of our eWater Solutions team which deliver eWater Source (Australia’s National Hydrological Modelling Platform), together with other water management tools and support, for our Australian government partners, water managers in the public, private and research sectors, and various other clients.

Daxa’s role includes working closely with our developers and hydrology teams to provide software development and hydrological modelling services that advance Australia’s world-class water resource modelling tools, and our expertise, for our partners in Australia and around the world.

Daxa enjoys the problem-solving aspect of her role at eWater and finding innovative solutions to persistent and new challenges.

“I enjoy working on complex software, learning about hydrology, and incorporating it into the software. I always look forward to coming to work as it challenges my ability and enables me to give 100 percent and do my best.”

International Women’s Day 2023

Our people are central to what we do here at eWater Group.

Supporting and empowering our people to deliver sustainable water management solutions is critical to our success, and that includes creating opportunities, and empowering our people to find solutions to increasingly changing environments both in Australia and overseas.

This year, we are marking International Women’s Day by supporting UN Women Australia’s theme: Cracking the Code: Innovation for a gender equal future.  

Michael Wilson, eWater Group CEO

eWater Group CEO, Michael Wilson says, “eWater Group is a passionate advocate and agent for gender equality and the empowerment of women. International Women’s Day gives our organisation and our employees the chance to celebrate achievements on gender equity and diversity more generally. We are an employer of choice and embrace and celebrate diversity in how we work as an organisation, and how we work with our partners, both in Australia and overseas.

“I am really proud of our people, who all support and empower each other to contest conventional ways of thinking and to innovate to strengthen our impact, including through the extraordinary work we are able to do to help communities in Australia – and in developing countries across the globe – manage their water more sustainably.”

eWater Group is owned by Australian federal, state, and territory governments to maintain and further develop Australia’s world-class water modelling tools, and to provide support and training nationwide and internationally. The Group manages three divisions – eWater Solutions, the Australian Water Partnership and Mekong Water Solutions – to deliver water management solutions for communities in Australia and overseas.

We asked our people to share their thoughts on what we, as a global community, can do to support innovation and technology for gender equality for women and girls in the water sustainability and management sector.

Dr Laura Beckwith, Mekong Coordinator, Australian Water Partnership

Innovations in technology are creating new opportunities for communication and connection but these opportunities are not equally available, according to Dr Beckwith.

“Worldwide, women and girls – as well as older people, people in rural areas and other marginalised groups– face additional barriers to access and engagement with technology, particular through internet connectivity – the so-called ‘digital divide’.”

“In the water sector, innovation and technology can provide many benefits to how we monitor, measure, manage and communicate about water, but there is a need to ensure that women and girls – and other marginalised groups– have a voice in shaping how water is used and managed. Participatory approaches to planning and decision-making can help to ensure that innovation in the water sector will foster sustainable and inclusive solutions.”

Lucy Chilver, Program Manager, Australian Water Partnership

For Lucy, creating more leadership roles for women and girls needs to be further encouraged as, “women can bring new and different perspectives to all kinds of problem-solving.  From their experiences in accessing and using water at a community level, women and girls often have a profound understanding of the challenges posed by insecure access to quality water, and so their involvement can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of water project outcomes.”

Juanita Moolman, Senior Hydrologist, eWater Solutions

As one of our most respected and senior hydrologists, Juanita Moolman, has been at eWater since 2012 where she has been instrumental in helping to build the capacity of future generations to meet the challenges that will be facing global water availability.

“As part of my role I have had the opportunity to train and mentor hydrologists from across the region as well as our own team and sharing my knowledge and experience with them is very rewarding for me.”

Praveeni Prematilleke, Senior Test Analyst, eWater Solutions

“I believe we can empower women in information technology by providing equal opportunities for both technical and leadership roles, including mentoring and providing support to booth their confidence.” 

Mukta Sapkota, Urban Hydrologist, eWater Solutions

A sustainable workforce requires diversity. Giving women and girls opportunities to consider hydrology, or other STEM roles, starts with education and creating opportunities to go into these fields as adults, as well as breaking down the barriers for current female hydrologists in the industry.

“I believe we need more women and girls in hydrology to maintain gender diversity for creating a healthy work environment at workplaces. We also need more women in higher management to foster gender equality and put forth women in leadership to ensure this principle is implemented.”

Samira Azadi, Hydrologist, eWater Solutions

 “We need to make sure we take the mystery out of hydrology. We need to show women and girls that hydrology is a fantastic field to work in and that you can take the theory and work in many places throughout the world.”

“I also believe it is important that we mentor and support women in our industry. I believe that is key to supporting each other to ensure diversity of thinking in our field.”

Daxa Bhudia, Software Developer, eWater Solutions

For Daxa the key to support more diversity in a workplace is to see more “gender-balanced workplaces, and more women in leadership roles. This improves workplace culture and leads to creative changes in industries.”

Sopheara Prom, Finance and Procurement Manager, Mekong Water Solutions

For Sopheara it is important to encourage women and girls to feel more supported within the industry; giving them opportunities to raise their voice and have their opinion heard in the water sector.

Channpisey Nop, Irrigation Engineer, Mekong Water Solutions

Channpisey is a real champion of support more women and girls into the water sector in Cambodia and in the life of society.

“The woman performs the role of wife, partner, organizer, administrator, director, re-creator, disburser, economist, mother, disciplinarian, teacher, health officer, artist, and queen in the family at the same time. Apart from it, woman plays a key role in the socio-economic development of society.”

“Globally, women have become engines for economic growth. Achieving gender diversity in enterprises is of critical importance to improving business outcomes. Women are often under-represented in the academic and professional fields of engineering, and not enough women have contributed as much as they should be able to the diverse fields of engineering historically and now.”

“For example, at Mekong Water Solutions, I am the only female engineer, so more work needs to be done to support more women and girls in engineering, but we are committed to doing that.”

“We need to encourage women and girls to feel supported to be innovative in the water space, need more value from people around them for their skills by providing more benefits for their hard work, encouraging them to believe in themselves.”

We celebrate and support International Women’s Day

Encouraging and inspiring words from the incredible people who work across the full spectrum of roles we have at eWater Group in Australia and internationally.

International Women’s Day is about celebrating the diverse skills and experience women bring to our communities, and workplace.

eWater Group is proud to support International Women’s Day and acknowledge and celebrate the contributions of our people make to our mission to support sustainable water management solutions for people and communities right across Australia and overseas.

Meet Our People – Laura Beckwith

The health and wellbeing of urban environments and the people who inhabit them continues to be a challenge for government and decision makers, private sector, and experts, now and into the future.

How we meet increasing demands for better water management and resources, as well as protect the local environment, is a conversation that eWater Group and our extraordinary, experienced experts are excited to be a part of.

The Australian Water Partnership, managed on behalf of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) as part of the eWater Group, plays a pivotal role in sharing and deploying Australian expertise in sustainable water management to improve water security in the Indo-Pacific region.  AWP is one of the Australian Government’s flagship initiatives in natural resource management and climate resilience, helping to tackle poverty and realise the Sustainable Development Goals in our region and globally. 

The importance of valuing different kinds of knowledge in water governance together with meeting our current and future needs is central to our resident Mekong Coordinator, Laura Beckwith, who represents our organisation in the region.

Laura Beckwith, Mekong Coordinator, AWP

Who is Laura Beckwith?

Laura isn’t new to the world of water governance and sustainable water management. She holds a PhD in International Development from the University of Ottawa in Canada, specialising in urban adaptation to climate change.

She has lived and worked in the Mekong Region since 2017, leading research on community responses to socio-ecological change in the Mekong Delta. In addition to this, she also brings more than 10 years’ experience in grant and relationship management in East Africa, Canada, and the UK.

With such a broad background, how did all roads lead to the Australian Water Partnership and the eWater Group?

After five years of living in East Africa and Canada, Laura wanted to take her PhD and apply it to Southeast Asia and how their communities were adapting to an ever-changing environment. This decision led her to Cambodia where she engaged with urban farmers in Phnom Penh to understand how they were impacted by urban expansion through wetland in-filling alongside environmental change, such as flooding, increase in temperature, and variability of storms as part of the regional Urban Climate Resilience in Southeast Asia (UCRSEA) project. Laura’s research highlighted the importance of urban wetlands to food security, livelihoods, and wastewater management.

Water is such a significant part of Cambodia’s identity, and with Phnom Penh being built on three major rivers, the sustainable management of water and its resources is critical. “Water is such an important part of the history of the city, you can’t work or study here, or even live here, without your work or life touching water one way or another; it influences the city.”

Your work at the Australian Water Partnership

Laura now supports our efforts in the Mekong region by providing a regional perspective and expertise on the ground including insights and challenges as well as managing projects and engaging with local government and water experts in country.  AWP will also work closely with Mekong Water Solutions, a new initiative also funded by DFAT aimed at establishing better water technical and multi-disciplinary project management skills within the Mekong region itself.

“I love the variety of the role, the challenges; I am doing different things every day. I love that I am working in the region in different contexts, including Cambodia and Vietnam and now I am having the opportunity to learn about the diversity and challenges of Laos. It is exciting.”

“It is exciting for me to be working for an organisation that is engaging with governments in a meaningful way. It is important that governments and local and national institutions are leading the way on conversations and responses to water resources and challenges facing the water sector.”

One invaluable insight for Laura was her recent engagement with local water experts who were appreciative of AWP’s technical support and collaborative approach, which was supporting their efforts to deliver successful water projects in the region.

It is this feedback that drives Australian Water Partnership and its experts to continue to do the work that they do; being represented in the region provides support to the success of our organisation but importantly to the protection of our most precious resource – water.

So how do we protect our water resources now and into the future?

For Laura, one of the many challenges we face right now is planning for a future we don’t know, and how we put in systems now for a tomorrow. “Global environmental change and particularly climate change is creating a lot of uncertainty which will challenge the way we use and manage water.” A challenge all humans, governments and institutions need to consider as demand for natural resources continues to grow.

Laura believes the Australian Water Partnership approach of working together with local government and institutions is the best way forward to have lasting change.

eWater Limited Board elects new chair and board members

eWater Group Board of Directors 2022

Our recent Annual General Meeting marked a great opportunity for our Board and people to come together to share and celebrate our achievements in 2022.

This year, we farewelled our former chairman, Don Blackmore AM, who was chair since the formation of eWater in 2005. Don made an incredible contribution to Australian water management through various roles including Chief Executive of the Murray-Darling Basin Commission, and Deputy Chair of Land and Water Australia.

The AGM also marked new beginnings with the election of a new chair, Greg Claydon PSM, and two new Independent Directors, Kathryn Silvester, and Dr Grace Mitchell. They join our ongoing Directors – Murray Rankin, Bob McMullan, David Dreverman, Deb Brown, Mitchell Isaacs, and Andrew Reynolds on an expanded Board.

Each of our Directors brings a diverse range of skills and experience to our organisation including water policy and management, commercialisation of Australian technology, international development, research and development, public policy, governance, and strategic planning.

Greg Claydon, Chair, and Independent Director

Greg has extensive experience within the water industry as well as natural resources management, both in Australia and internationally. He has been recognised at state, national, and international levels for his work in water and associated national resources reforms, in whole of river basins planning and management, and in integrated urban water management. Greg has held many board memberships including the Murray-Darling Basin Commission, CRC for Water Sensitive Cities, International Water Centre, COAG Water Reform Committee.

Dr Grace Mitchell, New Independent Director

Grace brings a wealth of knowledge to the eWater Limited Board including leading numerous high-profile, complex, multi-disciplinary initiatives that have required significant stakeholder engagement and negotiation within and between state and federal governments. With a PhD in Environmental Engineering from Monash University, Dr Mitchell has a proven track record in delivering complex policy initiatives and program outcomes, which will benefit the eWater Limited Board and eWater’s government owners, customers, stakeholders, and clients.

Kathryn Silvester, New Independent Director

Kathryn brings extensive knowledge and experience to the eWater Board including her work at the Sydney Water Corporation as Resilience and Climate Changer Adaptation Manager. Kathryn is a passionate water professional and has been a member of the International Water Association and Australia Water Association strategic councils, providing advice to their Boards of Directors.

Murray Rankin, Re-elected Independent Director

Murray is a director and chair of numerous boards of innovative Australian companies as well as serve on several government boards as a technology adviser. He has won numerous national business awards including the Telstra Small Business of The Year. He is an occasional lecturer in business strategy at the Australian National University, Macquarie University and Melbourne Business School.

David Dreverman, Independent Director

David has held many distinguished roles over his extensive career, including Executive Director, River Management, Murray-Darling Basin Authority, and General Manager, River Murray Water of the Murray-Darling Basin Commission. He has also worked as a consultant in the engineering industry; with SMEC, Hydro Electric Commission Tasmania and Australian Power and Water. David has been involved with large dam and hydropower projects, both in Australia and overseas for more than forty years.

Bob McMullan, Independent Director

Bob has held several ministerial positions in the federal government over his career, including Minister for the Arts, Minister for Trade, and Parliamentary Secretary for International Development Assistance.  He represented the Australian Capital Territory in both the Senate and House of Representatives.

Since leaving parliament, Bob has been involved in a range of activities, with a focus on international development, including Director of the ANU Crawford Leadership Forum, Board Member for the Crawford Fund and Foundation for Development Cooperation and as Australian Executive/Alternate Director for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Mitchell Isaacs, Owner-nominated Director

Mitchell Isaacs has worked in water related roles in the NSW Government since 2009 and from November 2020 as the Chief Knowledge Officer, Water Group, in the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment. Prior to joining the NSW Government, Mitchell worked as a research scientist in Australia and Japan, and as a project management advisor to the Cambodian Government’s Fisheries Administration.

Deb Brown, Owner-nominated Director

Deb Brown is the Executive Director, Catchment Waterways Cities and Towns in the Water and Catchments Group of the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, and a trusted and respected water leader with over 20 years’ experience within the public sector. Over her career, Deb has specialised in urban water management and conservation, environment, and river health improvement, and more recently in improving Traditional Owner inclusion in water management.

Andrew Reynolds, Owner-nominated Director

Andrew Reynolds has more than 24 years’ experience in the water industry, managing major water supply infrastructure, as well as extensive knowledge in the fields of engineering project management, dam safety and construction management. Andrew is the Executive Director, River Management at the Murray-Darling Basin Authority. Prior to that role, Andrew held various roles with Goulburn-Murray Water which included management of the Headworks business responsible for 16 large dams and associated infrastructure, delivery of several major dam safety upgrade projects, and leading the business’ engineering and scientific resources.

eWater Group and its people are happy to welcome new and continuing members of the eWater Limited Board to vital strategic conversations about Australia’s and the globe’s water future.

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

Paddock to Reef – Integrated Monitoring, Modelling and Reporting Program

Targeting investment to improve the health of the Great Barrier Reef.

What is the Paddock to Reef program?

The Paddock to Reef Integrated Monitoring, Modelling and Reporting Program (Paddock to Reef program) started in 2009 as a joint initiative of the Australian and Queensland governments to report on water quality improvement resulting from investment in improved land management practices. Improving the quality of water leaving properties by reducing pollutant run-off is critical to build the health and resilience of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). The program brings together industry bodies, government agencies, natural resource management bodies, landholders and research organisations.

The program provides a framework for evaluating and reporting progress towards the Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan targets. It integrates monitoring and modelling information on management practices, catchment indicators, catchment loads and the health of the Reef at the paddock, sub-catchment, catchment, regional and whole GBR scales (image below). The program evaluates management practice adoption, management practice effectiveness (in terms of water quality benefits and economic outcomes), catchment condition, pollutant run-off and marine condition.

Focus areas for the Paddock to Reef program

How does Source support the program?

The catchment modelling for the program is based on the Source platform, with customised plug-ins developed by the Queensland Government to provide additional water quality functionality. A range of other purpose-built data collection and reporting tools have also been built to support the program. These include interactive maps to show pollutant generation rates and priority investment areas.

The models are primarily used to report on annual progress towards the reef water quality targets as a result of investment in improved land management practices. Model outputs are also used to determine priority areas for investment and to assess possible outcomes from different scenarios such as different rates of adoption of improved practices. The catchment models also provide inputs for the marine models.

The Paddock to the Reef program helps manage the impacts of landuse on the quality of water flowing to the Great Barrier Reef, Qld
(credit: WITTE-ART.com / Adobe Stock)

Information sharing

Many of the actions required to achieve the water quality targets need to be undertaken by farmers and other land managers. To support greater uptake of the required actions, the Paddock to Reef program has been designed to share technical information in a way that can be easily understood and used. It also incorporates the local knowledge of land managers. Program features include:

  • Multiple lines of evidence to inform progress towards the targets.
  • Technical experts are based in the regions, giving them a good understanding of the local environment, issues and the effectiveness of management actions. This also helps build relationships with local land managers.
  • Ongoing refinement of the models and other tools to incorporate new knowledge, data and methods.
  • Results are presented online through an interactive reporting system to cater for the broad range of stakeholders interested in the results from the general public to scientific experts.
  • Data is made available to support other programs, for example regional report cards and regional natural resource management body and local government investment decisions.
  • ‘Cut down’ models provide locally specific tools to assess individual projects and prioritise local investment.

Peer review, continual improvement and validation are critical elements for any modelling program. The Paddock to Reef catchment modelling program undertakes an external review every three years. The program is supported by a GBR-wide pollutant loads monitoring program which provides data to calibrate and validate the catchment models and increase confidence in the models over time.

For further information go to Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan website https://www.reefplan.qld.gov.au/tracking-progress


This case study was prepared in collaboration with the Queensland Department of Environment and Science.

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

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.

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.

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.