Monitoring, research and social learning contributing to adaptive management of environmental flows in a regulated river in Australia

Robyn Watts (Presenter), C Allan, Nicholas R. Bond, Bruce Campbell, Paul Childs, James Dyer, Healy Sascha, Xiaoying Liu, Nicole McCasker, Damian McRae, Ebony Mullin, Katherine Reid, Andre Siebers, Jason Thiem, John Trethewie

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Environmental flows are increasingly part of many river restoration programs. In Australia, the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) Plan aims to protect and restore water dependent ecosystems that have been altered by river regulation. The Plan includes the voluntary purchase of water entitlements from irrigators, with this water allocated to the environment. Monitoring and evaluation of the outcomes of environmental flows in the MDB has been undertaken since 2010, initially through annual monitoring projects, then by the Long-Term Intervention Monitoring program (LTIM, 2014-2019) that has been succeeded by the Monitoring, Evaluation and Research project (Flow-MER, 2019-2023).
This paper focusses on the monitoring and research program in one of the areas in the MDB; the Edward/Kolety-Wakool river system, and describes how this program has contributed to the adaptive management of environmental water. This river system has considerable biophysical and institutional complexity, high species diversity, a rich Indigenous history, and supports a productive agricultural community. Since 2010 the system has experienced floods, hypoxic blackwater events, algal blooms and periods of low flows, so the monitoring program has needed to be flexible. The interdisciplinary core monitoring program (established in 2014) has been complemented by targeted research projects and additional short-term monitoring during key flow events. Over time the monitoring and research has shifted from being undertaken entirely by scientific experts, to increased collaboration with a range of local stakeholders. The outcomes have contributed to social learning, informed decision making, the adaptive management of environmental water, and improved environmental outcomes in this system.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Event2022 Joint Aquatic Sciences meeting - Grand Rapids, United States
Duration: 14 May 202220 May 2022


Conference2022 Joint Aquatic Sciences meeting
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityGrand Rapids
Internet address


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