Our tools to standardise, manage and access water data have improved the utility of water resources information in Australia.

The Challenge

Using our water data

High quality and timely water information is critical for delivery of operational products, data and services. However, when water data is collected in different places and on different systems it may not be in a consistent and comparable format. It may have to be converted so it can be used or, in some cases, it may not be able to be used at all. Data standards and tools are the key to getting the most information out of our water data.

Our Response

New tools and standards

We developed a range of water information systems, standards and tools to:

  • standardise how Australia manages and shares water data
  • automate and facilitate reliable data delivery and sharing across individual systems
  • publish data using online services that allow anyone to access data how and when they need it

Water information standards

WIRADA researchers led international collaborations to develop three open standards:

  1. WaterML2.0 Part 1: Time Series Encoding Standard. An international open standard harmonised with the Open Geospatial Consortium’s Observations and Measurements standard. In Australia, WaterML2.0 is used to guide development of the Water Data Transfer Format, which is designed to help the Australian water industry share data with the Bureau of Meteorology.
  2. WaterML2.0 Part 2: Ratings, Gaugings and Sections. This recently adopted standard supports exchange of river observation data that are crucial for monitoring of our river systems.
  3. WaterML2.0 Part 4: GroundwaterML2.0. This proposed standard addresses exchange of groundwater structures (e.g. aquifers, boreholes) and groundwater observations. WIRADA contributed significant learnings from developing WDTF and the National Groundwater Information System.

Australian hydrological geospatial fabric (Geofabric)

We developed the Australian hydrological geospatial fabric (Geofabric), a highly specialised geographic information system that registers the geographic and topological relationships between important features of Australia’s hydrological system, such as rivers, reservoirs, lakes, aquifers, drains and monitoring points. It also stores the boundaries of drainage divisions, catchments, aquifers and priority aquatic ecosystems.

The Geofabric is able to represent the various hydrologic features in different ways and at different scales, yet relate all of these products via a set of persistent reference points. This provides a robust spatial framework for water information related activities.

The Results

Accessible, useful water data

Using the standards developed in WIRADA, the Bureau is now able to collate information from the more than 200 organisations. This has enabled many water information products within the Bureau. One of the most recent is Water Data Online , which provides access to all the major surface water data in Australia. All the data within this system has been delivered using the formats developed by WIRADA.

The Geofabric products provide a spatial backbone for hydrological information systems. The Bureau publishes this data for all of Australia at http://geofabric.bom.gov.au .

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