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Monitoring and evaluation for the use of Commonwealth environmental water

The Office is putting in place monitoring and evaluation activities to support the management of Commonwealth environmental water. Monitoring and evaluation is being used to:

  • demonstrate that Commonwealth environmental water is being managed well
  • demonstrate ecological outcomes
  • help managers of environmental water learn from experience and improve the delivery of water over time.

Monitoring and evaluation activities will be guided by the Commonwealth Environmental Water Monitoring, Evaluation, Reporting and Improvement (MERI) Framework.

Operational monitoring

Operational monitoring is implemented by our delivery partners for all watering actions to ensure water is delivered as planned and to monitor initial ecological responses.

Targeted intervention monitoring of selected watering actions

Targeted intervention monitoring will occur where there is a need to understand short-term (1 year) ecological response to Commonwealth environmental water for selected watering actions. This approach has been undertaken in 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14 in the following catchments: Murrumbidgee; Edward-Wakool; Lower Murray; and Goulburn.

Results from short-term monitoring and evaluation work available at Outcomes.

Long-term intervention monitoring

The Office is establishing a Long-Term Intervention Monitoring (LTIM) project which will shift the current focus of monitoring and evaluation activities from short-term (1 year) to long-term (5 year) projects commencing in 2014-15.

The LTIM project will measure ecological responses to Commonwealth environmental watering actions at seven selected areas that are representative of Commonwealth environmental watering across the Murray-Darling Basin. The LTIM project will be consistent with our reporting obligations under the Basin Plan and in accordance with the Environmental Watering Plan.

The seven selected areas for the LTIM project are:

  • Gwydir Wetlands (wetlands and floodplains)
  • Lower Lachlan river system (in-stream and on fringing wetlands)
  • Murrumbidgee River (in-stream, on fringing wetlands and floodplains)
  • Edward-Wakool river system (in-stream and on fringing wetlands)
  • Goulburn-Broken river system (in-stream and on fringing wetlands)
  • Murray River (in-stream and on fringing wetlands)
  • Toorale Station (in-stream and floodplains, as well as an indicator of upstream unregulated rivers).

The LTIM project will be based on a clear and robust program logic, as detailed in the LTIM logic and rationale document. This document sets out the scientific and technical foundations of long-term intervention monitoring and will be applied to the seven areas as noted above. It also provides links between Basin Plan objectives and targets to the monitoring of outcomes from Commonwealth environmental watering actions.

For more information, see the Long-Term Intervention Monitoring Project Logic and Rationale Document.

Evaluation

The Office will continue to undertake evaluation to:

  • demonstrate the outcomes of the use of Commonwealth environmental water and how it has contributed to achieving the objectives of the Basin Plan
  • support adaptive management and improvement in the management of Commonwealth environmental water to meet ecological objectives
  • identify information gaps to help build new knowledge.

Reporting

The Office will continue to:

  • publish results from all monitoring and evaluation work that we commission as noted above
  • produce an annual environmental water outcomes report, which will summarise overall environmental outcomes.

Reports are available from our Publications page.

Improvement

The improvement process for the use of Commonwealth environmental water will be based on evaluation of the ecological outcomes from the use of environmental water, and the watering actions undertaken. Improvement will be implemented through refinement of:

  • future watering actions
  • annual water use options and longer-term portfolio management plans
  • the Basin Plan (to be undertaken by the MDBA through reviews, including as required under section 50 of the Water Act).

For more information, see Annual plans - Commonwealth environmental water use options