Modernisation and Extension of Hydrological Monitoring in Australia

Alan Baker, Brendan Moran, Linton Johnston and Sime Petrovski - Bureau of Meteorology , 22 October, 2010

Under the Commonwealth Water Act 2007, the Bureau is tasked with developing a national water information service. In support of the Bureau’s new water information mission, water information collectors are required under the Water Regulations 2008 to supply the Bureau with specified water information. Over 200 entities are currently named in the Water Regulations to deliver water information in their possession, custody and control to the Bureau.

A key aspect of the Bureau’s role is the development of the Australian Water Resources Information System (AWRIS). This system when fully implemented will provide free community access to water information from across the country. It will also allow users to compare water information across jurisdictions on an apples by apples basis and assist decision makers in ensuring investments in future water infrastructure development occur on a priority basis.

To assist data collectors to modernise and extend their water monitoring and management systems the Bureau is administering a five-year, $80 million Australian Government Funding Program; the Modernisation and Extension of Hydrologic Monitoring Systems in Australia (the Program).

The Program is currently in its fourth year with its primary objectives being to:

  • assist data collectors to modernise and extend their water monitoring and management systems
  • enhance the accuracy, currency and coverage of water information across the country
  • streamline the transfer of data required under the Water Regulations 2008 to the Bureau.

The Bureau is committed to funding projects that will provide the best outcomes for water information across the country and will materially assist it to provide comprehensive national water resource assessments, annual water accounts and the establishment of a new water availability forecasting service to complement its existing national role in flood warning and forecasting.

An independent review of the Program is currently being undertaken to determine its success in meeting these objectives, how it might be improved and to identify its effect on organisations that collect water information. The results of this review will be presented at the AHA Conference.

A detailed description of the Program is provided within the paper. A number of case studies are also presented to highlight the priority objectives and themes of the Program and to demonstrate the spread of investments and the application of emerging technologies. As all funding deeds have not been completed at the time of writing, details incorporated in the paper are up to and including Round 3 of the Program. Updated information including Round 4 projects details will be included in the conference presentation.