Integrated water management put to the test in Australian Capital Territory

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SYDNEY, Australia, July 6, 2009 -- The use of integrated urban water management as a potential means for achieving sustainable water supply management is being tested in a national trial underway in the Australian Capital Territory.

Using a combination of software decision-support tools and decision-science research, the eWater Cooperative Research Centre's 'focus catchment' trial is helping ACT water managers investigate optimal use of water sources while minimizing the region's urban ecological footprint.

On Wednesday 17 June, representatives from the eWater's project team and industry partners provided an overview of the trial to the ACT Branch of the Australian Water Association.

The session, Exploring Integrated Water Management in the ACT: an application of decision science, eWater software and ecological research, was attended by more than 70 people and was presented as part of the ACT Branch's regular series of technical presentations.

eWater's head of Urban and Ecology, Dr Ralph Ogden said the focus catchment trial brings together the best of local and national expertise through the partnership with ACTEW Corporation, ACT Department of Environment, Climate Change, Energy and Water, University of Canberra, The University of Newcastle, The University of Adelaide, CSIRO and BMT WBM.

"The focus catchment trial -- one of eight eWater trials underway in Australia -- directly applies eWater's next-generation software and local research to urban water management issues in selected locations within the ACT region," Dr Ogden said.

"The trial ensures there is a close alignment between user needs and the development of our software as well as fostering best practice modeling approaches throughout Australia."

Dr Ogden said that the eWater models are designed to simulate water use at the suburb scale, which is useful for water sensitive urban design.

"These suburb-scale models are then fed into the regional-scale scenarios of water supply and demand and water quality covering a range of current and projected rainfall scenarios, to support decisions about water infrastructure," he said.

"The advanced way the software adds value to basic hydrologic or ecological predictions is one of the most exciting developments.

"It allows users to easily translate uncertainty into best and worst case scenarios."

Dr Ogden said the trial will examine how eWater's software performs in relation to scenarios that balance water security, water quality in relation to future demand, and the region's social, economic and ecological needs.

"In particular, this includes better ways to predict ecological responses in lakes and rivers, and how this is integrated into broader water management practices.

"By providing new ways of modeling the benefits and tradeoffs associated with actual systems or future proposals, our software is designed to help managers optimize water management and make timely decisions to meet multiple objectives including ecological and water-quality targets."

>> More information about eWater's focus catchment trials and software development
>> eWater's work in ACT, June 2009 [.pdf]

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