Dr Jim Puckridge, Mr Justin Costelloe and Associate Professor Keith Walker, December 1998
This project focused on the role of water regimes in the biotic processes of wetlands, and models the consequences of modifying these regimes.
The specific objectives of the project were to:
- Develop a provisional Discharge - Water Regime - Biological model (DRY/WET) that allows prediction of both water regime change and biological trends in the Coongie Lakes wetlands, from changes in the Cooper Creek discharge regime;
- Transform the provisional DRY/WET model into an interactive tool for managers, resource users and stakeholders; and
- Package, publicise and distribute DRY/WET on CD-ROM, disk copy and hard copy for use by resource managers, resource users and other stakeholders.
The DRY/WET CD and book were launched in December 1998, and approximately 100 CDs or books were distributed to resource managers, researchers and industry stakeholders in the arid zone.
The major research components of this project included:
- Developing the Discharge - Water Regime (DWR) model and extending the time span of hydrological inputs to the model beyond 1987-1991 using methods proven by Costelloe and Lewis (in prep.) and software packages Ermapper 5.2 and IDRISI.
- From the data in the Coongie Lakes database and the outputs from the DWR model, developing relationships between water regime and biological indicators, using the multivariate analysis packages PATN 3.6 and PRIMER and univariate techniques such as regression.
- Transforming the above key relationships between water regime and biological indicators into a predictive Water Regime-Biology model (DRY/WET) using Artificial Neural Networks software in the Statistica Neural Networks package.
- Preparing a draft version of DRY/WET as a tool for water resource managers, using Powerpoint in MSOffice as a presentation medium.
- Production, publication and promotion of the final DRY/WET produced.
This project has direct on-ground management benefits for the Lake Eyre Basin rivers. Most wetlands in Australia have been degraded by a variety of factors related to water resource management, including alteration of water regimes by flow diversions (Wetlands and Migratory Wildlife Unit 1996). Diversions for irrigated agriculture are particularly important, both for their economic value and their environmental consequences. In the arid zone, wetlands are refuges for biodiversity and a major resource for the pastoral and tourism industries. The recent movement of irrigated agriculture into the arid zone requires effective methodologies for assessment and management of water resource use, and the monitoring of its effects in the arid zone be established, if the environmental and economic values of the regional wetlands are to be sustained.
One of the problems for managers is the difficulty of predicting the ecological effects of water use projects. This project provides a model for such predictions in one set of arid zone wetlands, and suggests key indicators to include in biological and water regime monitoring.
The model contributes to a more structured and open consultation process in relation to water resource use proposals, clarifying how such proposals should be structured to achieve ecological sustainability. It also reduces the uncertainty associated with such proposals for proponents of surface water use projects in the arid zone.
Principal researcher's contact details:
Dr Jim Puckridge
University of Adelaide
Note: ARIDFLO is funded under the Environmental Flows Initiative and administered under the South Australian Department of Water Resources.