Man with mobile phone stands in front of weather station.

Using the web dashboard to access CSIRO’s South Esk sensor web platform.

Ensuring sustainable water resource use

CSIRO is using web-based technology to improve our knowledge of the current and future state of our fresh water resources.

  • 29 July 2011 | Updated 18 October 2012


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Being a dry continent, the allocation of water resources in Australia is highly regulated. Despite the best of intentions, sometimes water is over-allocated, meaning too much is taken. This negatively affects both the environment and downstream industries.

Through the Water for a Healthy Country Flagship, CSIRO is using its skills in information and communication technologies (ICT) to improve the sustainable management of our water resources.

Effective water management involves:

  • observing what is going on
  • making sense of what is going on
  • predicting what will happen next.

Science so far

We hope to better the sustainable management of our limited water resource for the benefit of all water users and the environment.

In the South Esk River catchment in the north-east of Tasmania, Australia, we have:

  • built a sensor web (bringing together many different kinds of environmental sensors and sensor systems)
  • integrated the sensor web with numerical models used to predict water flow (a world first)
  • made the sensor data and forecasts available on the web through an easy-to-use dashboard interface.

Our sensor web integrates:

  • seven weather stations
  • twelve rainfall stations
  • eleven water level monitoring points
  • weather forecasts
  • rainfall run-off models
  • river routing models.

The dashboard interface we’re using is a version of the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) Sensor Observation Service developed by 52North initiative for geospatial open source software based in Germany.

Current activities

We are further developing our prototype real-time water information system, particularly in relation to:

  • the integration of sensor data with numerical models
  • data provenance.

We are using the OGC’s sensor web enablement standards to bring together different sensors, observation systems, numerical models and processing systems.

Forecasts are only as good as the data that goes into them, hence our interest in data provenance. That is, tracking information from when it was gathered by a sensor in the field, through the communication protocols that bring it to the central database and into the numerical models. Tracking allows assessments of quality and validity to be made.


We aim to provide a software system that will:

  • provide water users with a reporting tool to and guard against over-extraction of water
  • allow water managers an accurate picture of the current and future status of the catchment.
  • improve stream flow forecasting and mitigation of flood risk

We hope to better the sustainable management of our limited water resource for the benefit of all water users and the environment.


Our collaborators include:

  • Hydro Tasmania Consulting
  • Bureau of Meteorology
  • Tasmania Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Wildlife and Environment
  • Forestry Tasmania.

View data from the South Esk Hydrological Sensor Web.