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The challenge

Sustaining the demand for Australia's water supply

The sustainable and productive management of Australia’s water resources has to meet competing water demands from the agricultural, environmental and urban sectors, impacts of over-allocation and resource extraction, uncertainty in water resource availability, and the effects of hydroclimate variability and climate change.

The Australian Government recognised these challenges and legislated additional responsibilities for the BoM under the Water Act (2007). The WIRADA partnership between CSIRO and the BoM was established in 2008 in response to this new mandate. It brings together CSIRO's leading expertise in water and information sciences and the BoM's operational role in hydrological analysis and prediction to deliver value-added water information products and tools to Australians, governments and industry.

Our response

Water forecasting, resource assessment and data standards

This strategic collaboration has delivered nationally-consistent and regionally-relevant water information products and services to support sound decision-making at a national, state and local level.

Water forecasting

Advanced methods have been developed for quantifying uncertainty of streamflow forecasts, to provide users with information to assess and manage operational risk. A suite of statistical methods verifies and communicates probabilistic forecasts, providing users with information on forecast accuracy.

Water resources assessment

The interactive Australian Landscape Water Balance models1 provide information updated daily on water fluxes and stores at the continental, catchment and grid cell scale. These outputs are used directly by the BoM to deliver National Water Accounts, the Australian Water Resources Assessment (AWRA) and annual Water in Australia reports. The BoM products provide daily updates of basin, regional and national water perspectives, and help water managers and policy makers understand the present state of water resources across the continent and its variation over the last century, significantly enhancing water intelligence and situational awareness.

Water data standards

WIRADA has developed data exchange standards including:

  • WaterML2.0 - Part 1 (Timeseries), an exchange standard that allow users to share and/or discover hydrometeorological observations and measurements;
  • WaterML2.0 - Part2 (Ratings, Gaugings and Sections), an information model to exchange river gauging observations, river cross sections and rating tables that relate river height to river flow volume;
  • TimeseriesML1.0, a time series data exchange for applications beyond hydrometeorology;
  • GWML2.0, a standard to exchange data on groundwater features (e.g. aquifers, boreholes, wells) and observations; and
  • HY Features, a conceptual model for hydrological features like rivers, catchments, networks and basins.

The results

Improved forecasts and data sharing

The Water Information Research and Development Alliance (WIRADA) has produced the following:

  • Greatly improved forecasts of stream flows and more reliable data on Australia’s water resources provided through two new national water forecasting services
  • New water data standards that have radically improved the sharing of data nationally and internationally
  • Users report economic benefits from WIRADA-enabled services provided by the BoM

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