Melbourne Water, as waterway manager, has identified important drought refuges and Groundwater Water Dependent Ecosystems (GDEs) that require active management during dry periods to maintain important values like native fish and platypus populations. To facilitate management of individual drought refuges and implementation of actions outlined in Environmental Water Action Plans (EWAPs) for each refuge, Melbourne Water commissioned the development of a Decision Support Tool (DST). The DST has been designed to assist environmental flow planners and decision makers to quickly review the current status of priority drought refuges and GDEs. The tool places relevant information at manager’s fingertips to facilitate timely decisions around implementation of actions required to enhance or protect each drought refuge.
The tool makes use of available data (e.g. groundwater and stream level data, water quality data, and climate data and forecasts) to provide up-to-date information on the status of drought refuges, trends in condition and forecasting of trends. It incorporates a focus on trigger levels identified in EWAPs so that decisions can be made on management actions at local and regional scales.
The tool incorporates a simple regional traffic light assessment of seasonal trends in rainfall, stream flow and groundwater levels across Melbourne’s catchments. It provides up-to-date information on the status of priority drought refuges based on local monitoring data and compares the current status to trigger levels for stream flow and groundwater levels. The tool also provides statistical analysis of rainfall, stream flow and groundwater and predicts trends in stream flow and groundwater levels assuming a “no rainfall” scenario.
This presentation will provide an overview of the tool, demonstrate the key features and discuss how the tool can be updated to incorporate additional data.