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Source Catchments: The Results Are In

Wednesday 20 October 2010

Natural resource managers addressing complex water quantity and quality issues at key sites throughout Australia have been road-testing eWater’s integrated water modelling system, Source. To coincide with the official launch of Source Catchments, the first component to be publicly released, some of those managers addressed RiverSymposium to highlight the benefits of the product.

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Natural resource managers addressing complex water quantity and quality issues at key sites throughout Australia have been road-testing eWater’s integrated water modelling system, Source.

Today, to coincide with the official launch of Source Catchments, the first component to be publicly released, some of those managers addressed RiverSymposium to highlight the benefits of the product.

“Source Catchments is an excellent decision support tool that allows environment agencies and catchment managers to describe catchment processes and test the relative impacts of management options. The modelling system is easy to pick up and intuitive to use and offers the operator a wide suite of water quantity and quality models to create fit for purpose models of varying complexity. We are using a Source Catchments model to examine a range of management and climate scenarios in the Mount Lofty Ranges watershed to feed into the development of a Water Quality Improvement Plan” says SA Environment Protection Authority Senior Scientific Officer (Water Quality), Dr Shaun Thomas.

“Source Catchments strength is its flexible design allowing the user to construct models with the level of complexity appropriate to the data available and the modelling question being posed. This flexibility is one of the reasons why the state government in Queensland are using the Source Catchment model across the 35 Great Barrier Reef catchments to assess the progress towards meeting reef plan targets,” says Department of Environment and Resource Management (Qld) Senior Hydrologist Dave Waters.

The session featured insights from a number of projects involving optimising environmental water allocation in the Murray-Darling Basin, managing sediment in the Great Barrier Reef, low oxygen water in the Yarra River and developing future water supply options for Canberra.

A water quality and quantity model, Source Catchments is designed to help natural resource managers and consultants explore questions involving environmental management targets, prioritise improvement programs and measure the effectiveness of a broad range of catchment management activities.

The landmark software provides a framework for modelling the amounts of water and contaminants flowing though a catchment and into major rivers, wetlands, lakes, or estuaries. Source Catchments integrates an array of models, data, and knowledge that can be used to simulate how climate and catchment variables (like rainfall, evaporation, land use, vegetation) affect runoff, sediment and contaminants.

eWater CRC CEO Professor Gary Jones said that Source Catchments demonstrates the extensive capabilities, flexibility and integration that will be a hallmark of eWater Source.

“We are very pleased to be putting in the hands of the water industry a capability to tackle complex issues in catchment management and find solutions,” says eWater CRC CEO Professor Gary Jones.

“Source Catchments is a resource that can support the work of natural resource agencies throughout Australia by providing answers based on a track record of scientific research. We have had great feedback from our trial users who are already getting benefits in several states.

“The fruit of collaboration between leading scientists and industry partners, Source Catchments is the first module of the ground breaking eWater Source product that will enhance the management of water in Australia over the next decade.

“A fully functional 12-month free trial of Source Catchments is available for download from the eWater website.”

Fully Integrated

Source Catchments is the first configuration of eWater Source to be released. Previously known as WaterCAST, Source Catchments is built on the E2 modelling framework to provide additional functionality for assessing the effects of:

  • Quantity and quality of rainfall-driven runoff reaching streams in the catchment under present conditions
  • Alterations made to quantity and quality of runoff by climate variability, different land uses, or riverbank restoration – now, or in the future
  • Locations for on-ground work to maximise water quality improvement
  • Impacts of bushfire, flood, drought, construction activity or water extractions on the quality of receiving waters
  • The effect of land use change on water quality and quantity into receiving waters.