How effective are environmental flows? Novel approaches for monitoring and assessing ecological responses to large-scale flow alteration

Project Leader: Michael Stewardson
Staff: Siobhan deLittle, Kim, Miller
Collaborators: Angus Webb (Melbourne School of Land & Environments), Ian Rutherfurd (Melbourne School of Land & Environments), Andrew Sharpe (SKM), Rob Richards (Environmental Evidence Australia), LeRoy Poff (University of Colorado)
Sponsors: Department of Sustainability and Environment, Murray Darling Basin Authority, Melbourne Water, West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority, North Central Catchment Management Authority, Goulburn Broken Catchment Management, Glenelg Hopkins CMA, Wimmera Catchment Management Authority, Sinclair Knight Merz, Environmental Evidence Australia Pty Ltd, Colorado State University
Primary Contact: Michael Stewardson (
Keywords: ecohydrology; environmental water; water resources
Disciplines: Infrastructure Engineering
Domains: Optimisation of resources and infrastructure

Australia is commencing a multi-billion dollar program to return water to stressed rivers as environmental flows, but there is limited understanding of the likely ecosystem benefits. This project will produce methods to plan, monitor, and evaluate this intervention and will greatly improve our understanding of ecological responses to flow degradation and restoration. The partnership of universities, water managers and environmental consultants, brings together expertise in flow ecology, and large data sets from existing environmental flows monitoring programs. The project will improve our ability to predict ecological response to flow alteration, and lead the shift from expert-based to evidence-based methods in environmental flow planning.