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What is the difference between Australian River and Stream Hydrographers and Oceanographic/Marine Hydrographers?

Australian river and stream hydrographers (land based) monitor, measure, analyse and describe the earth’s surface and groundwater resources and many aspects of the water cycle, including human use of water resources.

Oceanographic hydrographers (ocean based) are involved in the science of surveying in the saltwater and freshwater environments, the adjacent shore and hinterland.

A number of hydrographers also work at the interface of land and sea.

Which hydrographers are represented by the Australian Hydrographers Association?

The Australian Hydrographers Association primarily represents river and stream hydrographers who measure all aspects of the water cycle, including human use, interaction and management of water resources but also includes members with maritime backgrounds.

The Australasian Hydrographic Society represents the interests of oceanographic hydrographers.

How do Australian Governments recognise river and stream hydrographers?

In the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (version 1.2, 2013) the Australian Bureau of Statistics describes a river and stream Hydrographer as a Science Technician who:

Measures, analyses and maintains the flow and quality of water in rivers, lakes, stormwater and sewage, and surveys and maps oceans, seas and rivers. ANZSCO Code 311415

What other names are used to describe Australian river and stream hydrographers?

Hydrographers in Australasia are also known as field hydrologists and hydrometric technicians, and sometimes terrestrial hydrographers. Some employers will use names such as hydrometric technicians, gauging technicians, field hydrologists, water monitoring officers, water assessment officers or environmental officers.

What is the information gathered by an Australian river and stream hydrographer used for?

The data and information obtained by hydrographers are used, amongst other things, to:

  • design dams, weirs, bridges, irrigation projects, water supply schemes, sewerage systems, flood protection works, warning services and marine facilities.
  • provide flood warning information for emergency services.
  • provide quality information and water data to the nation’s water managers for effective management of water resources for human use as well as environmental management.

What tasks does a river and stream hydrographer undertake?

River and stream hydrographers perform a wide variety of tasks and functions including:

    • select, install, calibrate, maintain and repair instruments which monitor water levels and flow, meteorology, sediments and water quality;
    • design, construct, install and maintain civil works associated with hydrographic activities;
    • collect sample data at various locations to confirm data gathered by automatic monitors;
    • use underwater acoustic equipment to establish and monitor tidal data; outline coastlines;
    • measure seabed, lake bed and reservoir depths and siltation;
    • search for underwater obstacles in oceans or lakes;
    • site reports and surveys;
    • analyse and prepare data for use by other professionals and
    • archive and quality control collected data and information.

Hydrographers work a percentage of their time in offices undertaking computer based water data evaluation and analysis.Their field expeditions can find them on foot, horseback, underground, on ships, in four-wheel-drives, in boats, planes or helicopters. The experiences of hydrographers are wide and varied!

How do I become a river and stream hydrographer?

Most hydrographers have gained their learning and education through a mix of on the job training and formal studies.

Traineeships and cadetships are offered regularly by water authorities, water and energy utilities, environmental consulting firms as well as contracting companies to the water, mining and forestry sciences.

What formal training is available for river and stream hydrographers?

The Australian Hydrographers Association offers the Introduction to Hydrography course which is a prerequisite for certification as a Certified Cadet Hydrographer

AHA also delivers training for subjects which cover the requirements of units of competency in the Diploma of Water Industry Operations (Hydrography). Students can enrol though AHA complete the full Diploma.

Given the geographic dispersion of hydrographic work around all corners of Australia, courses are usually offered by distance learning and courses provided in various locations around the country.

What are key dates in the development of the Australian Hydrographers Association (AHA)?

The first Australian Hydrographic Workshop was convened by Australian Water Resources Council (AWRC).
AHA born during this workshop.
AHA convenes biennial workshops sponsored by AWRC.
Australian Hydrographers Newsletter launched, published at quarterly intervals.
AHA incorporated in the Australian Capital Territory.
Newsletter renamed Australasian Hydrographer to reflect wider audience.
Start of two year hiatus.
Australian Hydrographers attending the 3rd International Hydrology and Water Resources Symposium decided to restart AHA.
AHA incorporated in New South Wales.
First website launched.
AHA Conference held at Sydney Olympic Park.
AHA Conference held at Gold Coast.
AHA Conference held at Darwin.
AHA Conference held at Canberra.
AHA launches Hydrography Basics course.
Website revamped to make information more accessible and easier to manage.
AHA Conference held at Perth.
AHA Conference held at Melbourne.
Technical article library launched on AHA website.
New constitution reflecting NSW legislation and AHA operating requirements.
AHA Conference held at Sydney Olympic Park.
AHA launches National Office with professional support.
Website redesigned for use on mobile phones and tablets.
AHA Conference held at Canberra.
AHA e-Conference held due to COVID lockdowns across Australia.


AHA launches Industry Subjects, Hydrometric Monitoring Basics Skill Set NWPSS00013 and new Diploma of Water Industry Operations (Hydrometric Monitoring) NWP50118 in partnership with Timber Training Creswick.

Who are our partner associations?

AHA has Memoranda of Understanding with affiliate organisations.