Source Catchments eWater integrated water modelling suite

Friday, 20 August, 2010 | Supplied by: eWater Limited

Applying a whole-of-catchment approach to water management is now possible with Source Catchments, the first component of eWater’s integrated water modelling suite, eWater Source, to be publicly released.

A water quality and quantity model, the software is designed to help natural resource managers and consultants develop targets, prioritise improvement programs and measure the effectiveness of a broad range of catchment management activities.

The software provides a framework for modelling the amounts of water and contaminants flowing though a catchment and into major rivers, wetlands, lakes or estuaries. Source Catchments integrates an array of models, data and knowledge that can be used to simulate how climate and catchment variables (like rainfall, evaporation, land use, vegetation) affect run-off, sediment and contaminants.

Previously known as WaterCAST, Source Catchments is built on the E2 modelling framework. It includes additional functionality for assessing the effects of: ground cover on erosion and water quality; farm dams and groundwater flows on stream flow; and groundwater - surface water interactions.

Source Catchments can predict the flow and constituent loads at any location in any catchment over time. It usually runs on daily time steps and produces reports at chosen spatial and temporal scales. Scenarios of interest can include actual or planned changes in land use, land management or climate.

The software allows users to answer a range of management questions, such as where to place on-ground works to maximise water quality. It can also look at how climate change might affect the sediment balance in the catchment, or what might happen if plantation forestry replaces cropping in a certain subcatchment. Modelling can be set up to handle bushfires, floods, droughts and construction, all of which can adversely affect catchments.

For the last few years eWater and its partner organisations have been road testing and refining the software in a number of major catchments around Australia. These catchments include four whose rivers feed into the sea adjoining the Great Barrier Reef (the Fitzroy, Pioneer, Burdekin and Barron). They also include catchments in Queensland, some catchments of the Hawkesbury-Nepean, the Yarra, and Goulburn-Ovens rivers, and streams in the ACT and the Mt Lofty Ranges, South Australia.

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