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The challenge

Protecting ecosystems in the Murray-Darling Basin

The Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder (CEWH) manages the Commonwealth-owned water in the Murray–Darling Basin. It delivers water for the environment with the aim of improving outcomes for plants and animals across the Basin. We need to understand how this water for the environment is helping to maintain, protect and restore ecosystems and native species. This understanding helps the CEWH to manage their water holdings to achieve the best environmental outcomes across the Basin. 

Illustration art for the Flow-MER program ©  Nina Rupena

Our response

Improving and evaluating environmental outcomes

The Flow Monitoring, Evaluation and Research Program (Flow-MER) is a collaboration of people from several fields of research and many partner organisations. Flow-MER is providing the critical evidence to demonstrate environmental outcomes from the delivery of Commonwealth water for the environment across the Murray–Darling Basin. CSIRO leads Basin-scale evaluation and research, evaluating and improving our understanding of these outcomes. Our work is organised across 6 Basin Themes and 4 Cross-cutting Themes. 

Flow-MER operates in seven selected areas of the Murray–Darling Basin – Junction of the Warrego and Darling rivers, Gwydir River System, Murrumbidgee River System, Edward/Kolety–Wakool river systems, Lower Murray River, Lachlan River system and Goulburn River.

The 6 Basin Themes are:

The 4 Cross-cutting Themes are:

The Basin-scale evaluation reports on the outcomes of the delivery of Commonwealth water for the environment. The Basin-scale research program improves the knowledge underpinning the evaluation and provides understanding to improve when and where Commonwealth water for the environment is delivered.

The results

Supporting better water management

Every year, the Flow-MER Basin-scale Project evaluates the ecological responses to the delivery of Commonwealth environmental water. These evaluations report on the most recent water year and on cumulative outcomes since monitoring began in 2014.

The evaluations are:

  • supporting legislative requirements under the Basin Plan
  • informing adaptive management
  • supporting environmental water managers.

The Basin-scale Project also conducts research through 13 projects funded between 2019 and 2024.

The research program is:

  • leveraging research already being undertaken in the Basin
  • informing the evaluation of outcomes of Commonwealth environmental water
  • informing adaptive management of Commonwealth environmental water
  • complementing science being undertaken across the Basin and integrating across the Basin and across Basin Themes.

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