$700,000 investment to enhance Queensland water modelling

Issued: 6 Sep 2023

Seven new water modelling projects are set to improve Queensland’s capacity to model its surface and groundwater resources.

The Queensland Government has invested $699,151 in the projects, co-funded by the Department of Environment and Science ($549,151) and the Department of Regional Development Manufacturing and Water ($150,000).

The projects will be undertaken by consortia that include First Nations representatives, universities, utilities, natural resource management bodies, consultancies and government agencies.

They range from incorporating First Nations knowledge in water models, making better decisions on climate resilience through the use of models, making better investments in the health of riparian zones and nutrient offsets, and improving our understanding floodplain erosion impacts on Great Barrier Reef health.

Water models are developed and used to inform decision making across a range of water policy, planning and management issues, including water resource planning, groundwater impact assessment, flood risk management and Great Barrier Reef water quality improvement.

The new projects are:

  • Githabul First Nations Water Modelling Project: This project will improve Queensland’s ability to integrate First Nations’ cultural knowledge, values, and land and water management skills into scientific water modelling and management practices. A consortium comprising NGH Pty Ltd, BMT Commercial Australia, and Border Rangers will deliver this project, with co-funding by the Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water (DRDMW).
  • Incorporating First Nations Knowledge in Water Modelling: This project will apply outcomes from an earlier QWMN-funded project to create a methodology for collaboration between First Nations knowledge holders and technical specialists for landscape restoration projects focused on Munga Lake and its Condamine and Balonne catchments. A consortium comprising Relative Creative, Water Technology, Traditional Owner Aunty Kay Blades, St George Aboriginal Rangers, and Queensland Murray Darling Catchment Ltd will deliver this project, which is co-funded by DRDMW.
  • Water modelling in an uncertain but data rich world – ensuring water modelling outputs are used by decision makers to improve climate resilience: This project will show how climate/water modelling can be used to help decision makers make accurate water modelling decisions irrespective of future eventualities. A consortium comprising Alluvium Consulting, Centre for Water, Climate and Land, the University of Newcastle and the University of Tasmania will deliver this project.
  • Revolutionising Riparian Management: A smart bayesian network and interactive visualisation tool for evidence-based investment in SEQ catchment values, water quality and climate resilience: This project will enhance the way investment in, and management of riparian zones are prioritised to ensure investments are evidence-based and provide maximum benefits. A consortium comprising Healthy Land and Water, QUT, and Mirror Analytics will deliver this project.
  • A modelling framework for nutrient offsets: Nutrient offsetting (to counter nutrient loads from other sources) has grown in popularity but estimating any offset’s effectiveness has historically been limited. This project will seek ways to address this limitation. A consortium comprising Griffith University, Alluvium Consulting, DES, The University of Queensland, Urban Utilities, Sydney Water, and Healthy Land and Water will deliver this project.
  • Floodplain deposition modelling review and opportunities: This project builds on earlier QWMN initiatives that assessed issues with stream bank modelling in Great Barrier Reef catchments and will provide frameworks to support better water modelling decisions for these catchments. A consortium comprising Alluvium Consulting, ENEA Consulting, and the Fitzroy Basin Association will deliver this project.
  • Multi-model assessment of drinking water security under climate change: This project will develop water models (from climate, hydrological, water quality, and decision support models) to assess climate change impacts on drinking water security. A consortium of Griffith University, Cairns City Council, Seqwater, Torres Strait Island Regional Council and Healthy Land and Water will deliver this project.

“These latest water modelling projects represent a major investment into getting the science right for important water modelling and management practices, particularly considering the effects of climate change.

“Accurate, scientifically proven water management decisions accrue benefits across the environment and the community from ensuring that this precious resource in catchment areas is managed sustainably, to protecting water quality in Great Barrier Reef catchments leading to better protection of the reef itself.

“These new projects, especially with the inclusion of First Nations’ traditional knowledge and cultural expertise, will see many improvements in our capacity to model surface water and groundwater resources.”

Quotes attributable to Department of Environment and Science Deputy Director General Dr Mark Jacobs

“Understanding water through modelling informs how we plan and manage this precious resource in a sustainable way.

“With 23 water plans covering Queensland, including the Great Artesian Basin, advancing our knowledge of water flows and groundwater systems means better outcomes and improved results for the environment, for First Nations People, for industry and for communities.

“The Queensland Government is allocating $11.657 million over three years to develop a First Nations Water Strategy with Traditional Custodians across Queensland and to deliver improved engagement with First Nations peoples on water planning and other decision making.

“I am proud that cultural outcomes and water for First Nations peoples are considered when water plans are reviewed and replaced.

“This is why it made sense for our department to be a co-funder of the ‘Githabul First Nations Water Modelling’ and the ‘Incorporating First Nations Knowledge in Water Modelling’ projects using our First Nations Water Strategy funds.

“This is a logical next step in further strengthening our understanding of cultural values and integrating these values into science tools such as water models.

Quotes attributable to the Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water Strategic Water Initiatives Executive Director Stephenie Hogan

Further information:

Established in 2017, the Queensland Water Modelling Network has funded 19 projects through its annual strategic tender to improve the state’s ability to model its surface and ground water resources, including modelling to support climate adaptation of Queensland’s waterholes through to incorporating First Nations land management into technical approaches to water modelling.