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How do we know environmental watering is working?

A lot of science and community knowledge exists about the water needs of plants and animals in rivers and wetlands.

Using this knowledge, specific studies have identified the types of flows a particular river needs or the wetting and drying patterns needed by a wetland. This information tells us the timing, watering duration and amount of water needed by native plants and animals.

Monitoring programs and advice from experienced environmental water managers are also considered. Though there is still much to learn, these studies provide the best-available information about environmental watering.

Scientific and community knowledge is used to support key aspects of environmental water management such as understanding what environmental values exist in different regions, how these values can be supported with environmental water, and whether environmental watering is achieving its objectives. See the technical reports for flow studies and environmental water management plans.

What is monitoring and how is it done?

The monitoring of environmental watering is the observation, recording and evaluation of one or more environmental flows and associated outcomes over a period of time using different tools and methods.

Examples of tools used to monitor environmental flows include water gauges to observe volumes of water travelling past a certain point, electrical conductivity meters to measure salinity (dissolved salt) levels in the water, drift nets to pick up fish eggs floating in the water, and vegetation quadrants to measure how much of a particular native plant is emerging near a river or wetland.

Why is it important to monitor environmental watering?

Environmental watering is an evolving field that aims to improve the health of modified river and wetland systems and protect the environmental values that remain.

As we are always learning about the needs of complex river and wetland systems and the native plants and animals they support, it is important to monitor environmental watering and ask, 'Is environmental watering achieving results? Has environmental watering been successful? How can it improve?'

Accountability
Ensure accountability by enabling environmental water managers to report on the use of environmental water
Transparency
Ensure transparency by investigating and communicating the ecological benefits of environmental watering
Efficiency
Improve efficiency by facilitating learning and improved management.