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Flow-MER is the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office’s on-ground Monitoring, Evaluation and Research program.

We are working in partnership with scientists, water managers and communities across the Murray-Darling Basin to help us understand how fish, birds, vegetation and river connectivity are responding to Commonwealth environmental water.

Image: Aerial view of straw-necked ibis colonies in the Booligal wetlands. Photo credit: Will Higgisson

Flow-MER is the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office’s on-ground Monitoring, Evaluation and Research program.

We are working in partnership with scientists, water managers and communities across the Murray-Darling Basin to help us understand how fish, birds, vegetation and river connectivity are responding to Commonwealth environmental water.

Image: Aerial view of straw-necked ibis colonies in the Booligal wetlands. Photo credit: Will Higgisson

The Flow-MER program team acknowledge and respect the Traditional Owners as the First Peoples of the lands and waters of the Murray Darling Basin.

We recognise their unique ability to care for Country and their deep spiritual connection to it. We honour Elders past and present whose knowledge and wisdom has ensured the continuation of culture and traditional practices.

We are committed to genuinely partner, and meaningfully engage, with Traditional Owners and Aboriginal communities to support the protection of Country, the maintenance of spiritual and cultural practices and their broader aspirations in the 21st century and beyond. In particular we acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the seven Selected Areas where Flow-MER research is focussed.

Why Flow-MER?

Monitoring, evaluation and research (MER) are critical to ensure that the use of Commonwealth environmental water achieves the best outcomes for our rivers, wetlands and floodplains, as well as the animals, plants and people that depend upon them. The Flow-MER Program continues the work undertaken through the Long-Term Intervention Monitoring (LTIM) Project and Environmental Water Knowledge and Research (EWKR) Project, which have provided us with a strong base from which to continue our investigations.

Flow-MER is now the primary means by which the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office (CEWO) will monitor and evaluate the delivery of Commonwealth environmental water in the Murray-Darling Basin.  The work of Flow-MER will support environmental water managers, demonstrate outcomes, inform adaptive management, and fulfil the legislative requirements associated with managing Commonwealth owned environmental water.

The Flow-MER Program is a Basin-wide project that has two components:

  1. evaluation and research at the Basin scale that is organised around six Basin Themes and five cross-cutting themes
  2. a site scale focused on monitoring at seven Selected Areas across the Basin. Research and monitoring undertaken at the Basin and Selected Areas informs the evaluation of Commonwealth environmental watering

Hydrology

The Hydrology Theme is assessing the hydrological outputs (flow) of Commonwealth environmental water use at a number of sites across reach, valley and Basin scales.

Biodiversity

The Biodiversity Theme is evaluating how Commonwealth environmental water benefits birds and animals at different sites in the Murray-Darling Basin.

Ecosystem Diversity

The Ecosystem Diversity Theme is evaluating the contribution of Commonwealth environmental water to protect and restore a vast array of biologically rich rivers, lakes, wetlands and floodplain ecosystems.

Fish

The Fish Theme is working closely with Selected Areas to understand how Commonwealth environmental water is impacting on different fish species.

Vegetation

The Vegetation Theme is analysing vegetation diversity responses to Commonwealth environmental water in both the short term (<1 year) and longer term (1–5 years).

Food Webs & Water Quality

The Water Quality and Food webs Theme is examining the effects of Commonwealth environmental water on nutrient dynamics, productivity and energy flow through ecosystems.

Our Cross-Cutting Themes

In order to provide a cohesive approach across the Evaluation and Research components of Flow-MER, Cross-Cutting Themes have been introduced.

Image: Charles Sturt University team processing fish. Photo credit: Charles Sturt University

Where is Flow-MER happening?

Flow-MER is happening across seven Selected Areas which were chosen to provide geographic coverage of the Basin and include a range of key ecosystems and biota. Through regular contact with Selected Area-scale project teams, Flow-MER will share approaches and understanding of area-to-area variability, and ensure that the Basin-scale evaluation is scientifically robust, efficient and effective.

To find out more about each Selected Area, click on the boxes below:

Lachlan

Lachlan

Led by University of Canberra

The Lachlan River is one of three rivers of the Wiradjuri people, forming part of Songlines and Dreaming tracks. It has provided food, shelter and resources to the Wiradjuri people for between 40,000 and 65,000 years. It supports a diverse range of landscapes and species that vary enormously through extremes of weather conditions. Our work here is focusing on monitoring the outcomes of environmental water in the lower Lachlan River system, from Lake Brewster to the Cumbung swamp.

Learn More

Murrumbidgee

Murrumbidgee

Led by Charles Sturt University

The Murrumbidgee is a lowland river system with large meandering channels, wetlands, lakes, swamps and creek lines. Our work here focuses on understanding how native fish, waterbirds, reptiles and amphibians, as well as wetland vegetation communities, benefit from these targeted environmental watering actions.

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Lower Murray

Lower Murray River

Led by South Australian Research and Development Institute

The Lower Murray River is a complex system with diverse habitats supporting important water-dependent plants and animals. Our work here is to monitor and evaluate ecological responses to Commonwealth environmental water delivery.

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Gwydir

Gwydir

Led by University of New England

The Gwydir is a special place with significant environmental, cultural and economic values. Our work here focuses on monitoring and evaluating the outcomes water for the environment enables in some of the largest waterbird breeding colonies in Australia. We also work in the rivers and floodplains to assess water quality, fish breeding and food webs.

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Warrego-Darling

Warrego-Darling

Led by University of New England

The Warrego-Darling is a unique and diverse system that supports a rich diversity of plants and animals in a constantly changing environment.  Our work here is to collect data, monitor ecosystem interactions, and evaluate our findings so we can provide accurate and reliable information to the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office for the effective management of environmental water.

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Lower Goulburn

Lower Goulburn

Led by Melbourne University

The Goulburn River is one of the hardest working rivers in the Murray-Darling Basin, providing water to support agriculture and rural communities, as well meeting growing downstream Murray River demands. At the same time, it is home to diverse flora and fauna. Our work is to assess how environmental and consumptive (irrigation) flows are affecting the ecosystem of the Lower Goulburn River, to help waterway managers to protect and enhance this vital water source into the future.

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Edward/Kolety-Wakool

Edward/Kolety-Wakool

Led by Charles Sturt University

The Edward/Kolety-Wakool River system is a large anabranch of the Murray River in the southern Murray-Darling Basin, Australia. The system is a complex network of interconnected streams in a productive agricultural landscape. Our work in this system focuses on understanding how native fish, vegetation, water quality and processes that support and sustain aquatic food webs, are influenced by targeted environmental watering actions.

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This website contains information specific to the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office (CEWO) Monitoring, Evaluation and Research Program. For information on all other CEWO business including water management and trade, please visit the CEWO website.

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