The Australian Hydrographers Association was born in the late 1970s, evolving out of the technical group meetings related to activities of the then Australian Water Resources Council (AWRC) in that period.
Water data collection was in the process of beginning to move from ‘tomes’ of paper based sacred hydrological data and information into the beginnings of the electronic era that today many younger hydrographers take for granted as now easily accessible and obtainable at the click of a mouse button. Hydrographers were involved in the AWRC technical committees on data collection and instrumentaion (just to name a couple) and many shared the common belief that collecting the best quality water data enabled the production of best quality water information which would then feed into the best decisions for Australia’s Water Resources.
In the 1960s and 70s there was a national program of investment in hydrographic infrastructure expansion. It was a time for building things hydrographic and many weirs and gauging stations were built across the nation with a rapid expansion in gauging station numbers and a focus on water assessment for human uses. Unfortunately the end of this funding program for infrastructure did not carry over into funding the continual operation of the greatly expanded networks and gradually the numbers in the network began to slowly decrease as authorities chose to make ‘core business’ decisions on maintaining gauging station networks due to the lack of funding to maintain and operate existing sites, let alone upgrade the network with newer equipment or technologies.
Australian Hydrographers, who were members of these technical committees, as well as working in authorities with a decreasing operational funding committment and covering (at times) vast operational areas with limited staff, also happened to be at the edge of the new ‘digital’ revolution. In their co-operative work in the technical committees they saw the opportunity to develop water data collection systems and processes that would hopefully enable effective water data collection to continue across the nation.
These Hydrographers also saw the need for a body that would enable a forum for ideas, techniques and technological answers to issues hydrographic. The body would work towards the ideals below that would eventually form the basis of Objectives of the Constitution of The Australian Hydrographers Association.