Hydrological Model for Tracking unaccounted water use in data sparse arid environment

Muhammad Hafeez

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperConference paperpeer-review


Hydrological knowledge of irrigated farms within the inundation plains of the Murray Darling Basin (MDB) is very limited in quality and reliability of the observation network that has been declining rapidly over the past decade. This paper focuses on Land Surface Diversions (LSD) that encompass all forms of surface water diversion except the direct extraction of water from rivers, watercourses and lakes by farmers for the purposes of irrigation and stock and domestic supply. Its accurate measurement is very challenging, due to the practical difficulties associated with separating the different components of LSD and estimating them accurately for a large catchment. The inadequacy of current methods of measuring and monitoring LSD poses severe limitations on existing and proposed policies for managing such diversions. It is commonly believed that LSD comprises 20-30% of total diversions from river valleys in the MDB areas. But, scientific estimates of LSD do not exist, because they were considered unimportant prior the onset of recent draught in Australia. There is a need to develop hydrological water balance models through the coupling of hydrological variables derived from on ground hydrological measurements and remote sensing techniques to accurately model LSD. Typically, the hydrological water balance components for farm/catchment scale models includes: irrigation inflow, outflow, rainfall, runoff, evapotranspiration, soil moisture change and deep percolation. The actual evapotranspiration (ETa) is the largest and single most important component of hydrological water balance model. An accurate quantification of all components of hydrological water balance model at farm/catchment scale is of prime importance to estimate the volume of LSD. A hydrological water balance model is developed to calculate LSD at 6 selected pilot farms.The catchment hydrological water balance model is being developed by using selected parameters derived from hydrological water balance model at farm scale. LSD results obtained through the modelling process have been compared with LSD estimates measured with the ground observed data at 6 pilot farms. The differences between the values are between 3 to 5 percent of the water inputs which is within the confidence limit expected from such analysis. Similarly, the LSD values at the catchment scale have been estimated with a great confidence. The hydrological water balance models at farm and catchment scale provide reliable quantification of LSD. Improved LSD estimates can guide water management decisions at farm to catchment scale and could be instrumental for enhancing the integrity of the water allocation process and making them fairer and equitable across stakeholders.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication15th ARSPC Conference
Place of PublicationAustralia
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2010
EventAustralian Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Conference - Alice Springs, NT, Australia
Duration: 13 Sep 201017 Sep 2010


ConferenceAustralian Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Conference

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