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How do we know environmental watering is working?

The effect of water for the environment in Victoria is assessed through large-scale monitoring programs measuring many indicators at multiple sites over many years, as well as investigations examining responses at a single wetland or river reach.

These monitoring programs include:

  • The Victorian Environmental Flows Monitoring Assessment Program investigating the effect of flows on native fish and aquatic and streamside vegetation
  • The Wetland Monitoring Assessment Program examining the effect of water for the environment on native vegetation, waterbirds, fish and frogs in wetlands.
  • The MDBA’s monitoring activities at Barmah Forest, Gunbower Forest, Hattah Lakes and the Lindsay, Mulcra and Walpolla islands as part of the Living Murray Program
  • The CEWH’s Flow-MER program monitoring the responses of fish, vegetation, bugs, stream metabolism and bank erosion to environmental flows in the lower Goulburn River.

The VEWH reports on watering and results each year in Reflections.

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?'

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

Page last updated: 12/12/19