Environmental Water Planning and Operations

Delivering environmental water to maximise benefit to the riverine environment, while minimising risks.

 

Water resource assessment for the Laratinga Wetlands

The District Council of Mount Barker, engaged naturallogic to develop an environmental water requirements plan for the Laratinga Wetland in 2011 and again in 2019. The development of water requirements included; an assessment of wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) effluent (the source of water for the wetland), the ecology of the wetland habitats, water quality within the wetland and requirements for discharge into Mount Barker Creek. These requirements were then considered against various water allocations from the WWTP, with an adaptive management framework established for ongoing management.

 

Riverine Recovery Program – 1B Wetland Management Plans

The RRP is a major component of ‘Murray Futures’ – South Australia’s priority program under the Australian Government’s Water for the Future initiative. Among other aims, RRP aims to restore the variability in wetland hydrological regimes that existed prior to river regulation by managing individual wetlands and investigating river-scape management at a weir-pool/reach scale. A critical requirement preceding the management of any wetland is the preparation of a wetland management plan. Wetland Management Plans, to document the wetland ecological character, identify management opportunities, assess management risk, and describe management objectives (including in particular hydrological manipulations) and monitoring targets to determine the effectiveness of any management actions. naturallogic was engaged (DFW/DEWNR) to research and develop the Wetland Management Plans for the five Group 1B wetlands along the South Australian River Murray.

Adaptive Flows Management Framework and Decision Support System

The interconnected network of surface-water and groundwater drains, flood-ways, watercourses and wetlands developed through the Department for Water’s Upper South East Program has been designed to optimise the distribution of environmental flows throughout the region, as well as to manage the impacts of dry-land salinity. Darren was the principal architect of the knowledge-based, operating principles framework and decision support system (DSS) to underpin the adaptive management of flows within the USE Network into the future. Most recently, naturallogic was engaged by DFW to consolidate, review and develop the system documentation for the Adaptive Flows Management Framework and Decision Support System for the USE Network.
These developments are widely recognised as defining the practical approach to, and setting current benchmarks for, environmental flows management planning and operations; and Darren is regularly called upon the present to audiences (including groups of international professionals through ICEWaRM) on the topic of adaptive management system development for water resource management.

 

‘South East Solutions’

The South East Region of South Australia is today a highly modified landscape. Broad-scale land clearing and an extensive drainage network have converted what was once a wetland dominated landscape to agricultural production on a vast scale. Historically, cross catchment drainage schemes have been constructed to intercept surface water flows and drain them to the sea; however more recently, network engineering has been designed specifically to deliver environmental flows throughout the region including to the south lagoon of the Coorong. naturallogic c was engaged by the Department for Water to identify and undertake preliminary concept development and feasibility analysis, and to develop a business case for investment in a suite of integrated projects that individually and in combination have the capacity to enhance the delivery of water resources from the South East to the Coorong. This investment prospectus is presently the basis of project development funding discussions between the State and Australian Governments.

 

Upper South East Drainage Network Management Strategy

The preparation of a Drainage Network Management Strategy for the USE drainage scheme is a statutory requirement of the Minister for Environment and Heritage. naturallogic was engaged to develop this high-level strategy document, outlining the Government’s proposals for the management of the drainage network – to provide for salinity and flood mitigation, and the management of environmental flows to key wetland assets in the region, including the Coorong.

 

Stewardship Incentive Schemes – Upper South East Program

A suite of ‘stewardship incentive’ schemes (to deliver some $20M in investment) were developed under the Department of Water land & Biodiversity Conservation’s Upper South East Program: with the aim of improving the conservation of significant remnant biodiversity assets on private lands under robust, long-term covenants. These schemes (both cash and off-set ‘credit’ based schemes) required the development of a sophisticated business model, valuation tools, transaction systems and a robust contract framework, incorporating pragmatic long-term management plans. Darren was the architect of this business system and led the development and implementation of these schemes.

 

The South Australian Biodiversity Assessment Tool (SABAT)

SABAT is a sophisticated biodiversity asset indexing tool, that can support planning and decision-making around the relative significance of biodiversity assets within a landscape, for the purposes of program investment and benefit assessments. One of its key strengths is its ability to combine the analysis of field survey data with spatial information. It also has the ability to store and analyse repeat assessments of sites to evaluate change over time, in response to various land management treatments. Besides being able to calculate Biodiversity Significance Index ‘scores’ for individual sites, it is able to be applied to regional scale analysis through its GIS functionality. Darren led the design, development and implementation this system for its initial application under the Department of Water land & Biodiversity Conservation’s Upper South East Program.