Queensland Water Modelling Network programs and projects

    Active projects

    Stream bank erosion modelling in the Great Barrier Reef catchments – Stage 2

    This project will develop an approach to improve the understanding of the geomorphic properties of modelled links within the Paddock to Reef modelling framework. The project team will work with the Paddock to Reef team to assess the process-based components of the streambank model performance in the different river types.

    (Delivery Partners: Alluvium Consulting, The University of Melbourne).

    A gamified digital twin of a trading scheme for sediment and nutrients in South East Queensland to improve health of waterways and the Moreton Bay

    This project aims to develop a digital twin trading scheme that consolidates and integrates knowledge, science, models and market mechanisms. Through gamification, the digital twin will enable interactive analysis of environmental, economic and social factors and scenarios, to develop regulations, conditions and operating rules for a nutrient and sediment trading scheme for South East Queensland (SEQ).

    (Delivery Partners: Aurecon, Deltares, Griffith, GHD, Costello Consultancy, CSIRO).

    Landscape-focused digital twin for local engagement in water governance in monsoonal river systems

    This project develops a learning-focused digital twin for the Gilbert River Agricultural Precinct, combining multiple knowledges using multi-scale spatial water-budget visualisations. Taking a landscape perspective of water storage options, it is designed to facilitate local scale engagement with water governance and kickstart conversation about information sharing and research investment requirements.

    (Delivery Partners: Australian National University, Northern Gulf Resource Management Group)

    A framework to marry models and data: even an imperfect match can be valuable

    Water modelling and monitoring support decision-making and provide important but incomplete representations of the real-world. The role of data in improving models is well understood, but the potential for models to enhance data is less clear. This project provides a framework to gain insight from mismatch between model and data. (Delivery Partners: The University of Queensland, Queensland Department of Resources (Paddock to Reef Modelling), Queensland University of Technology, Alluvium Consulting).

    Re-imagining a water model (source) as an experiential multiplayer game: A case study in nitrogen offsetting in Moreton Bay

    Complex water models are historically inaccessible to end users and limited to biophysical elements. This project will aim to address these issues by combining gamification and co-design. This enables end users to contribute to the gamification of a model, evaluate management decisions under realistic conditions and provide the integration between biophysical and non-biophysical dynamics.

    (Delivery Partners: The University of Queensland, BTN, Alluvium Consulting, Healthy Land and Water).

    Institute for Water Futures Collaboration

    The Queensland Water Modelling Network has partnered with the Australian National University’s Institute for Water Futures to better explore future scenarios for water and natural resource management in Queensland. The research project aims to develop participatory foresighting approaches for considering multiple plausible futures, and test methods for translating this information into water models to better inform management decisions. To learn more about the project objectives and outcomes, read Queensland Water Management in 2050.

    Completed projects

    Queensland Water Modelling Network (QWMN) Fellow

    Based at the Australian Rivers Institute, Griffith University, the QWMN Fellow has undertaken research that improves model functionality and capability between the catchment and its receiving water environments, having consideration for the influence of land use/land management, climate change and policy interventions to sustain the Great Barrier Reef. The work is initially focusing on the riverine and estuarine environment, building on knowledge, capacity and models that have been developed for the Great Barrier Reef to establish strategic estuarine, gully and streambank modelling capability.

    Related publications:

    Queensland Water Modelling Network Wetland Hydrology Model Review

    Alluvium Consulting, Griffith University and Australian Wetlands Consulting undertook a critical analysis of wetland hydrology models with particular focus on the role of nitrogen and associated processes.

    The review outlines the strengths and weaknesses in the treatment of nitrogen process by existing models as they pertain to scale, process, landscape form, cost, availability, etc. and identifies significant/critical gaps. Read the QWMN 2021 Wetland Hydrology Model Review (PDF, 8.3MB) .

    Between a hot place and hypoxia: modelling to support climate adaptation of Queensland’s waterholes

    Fish populations in dryland rivers, such as many in the northern Murray-Darling Basin, are subject to frequent hydrological drought disturbances. During these disturbance events, fish populations resist drought by utilising waterholes as refuges. The University of Western Australia in collaboration with The University of Queensland and the Queensland Department of Environment and Science, have developed a new modelling capability to identify risks to fish occupying waterhole refuges and appropriate management actions. Read the report (PDF, 12.8MB) .

    Modelling surface water availability to inform water security for freshwater biodiversity

    Climate change is rapidly impacting the hydrological cycle and the availability of water resources for humans and nature. During extended dry periods, water storage in reservoirs is critical for human needs and persistent riverine pools provide essential refuges for aquatic biodiversity. However, there is a critical lack in understanding of how surface water availability changes in response to projected increases in climate variability and extreme events such as droughts. The project developed fine-grained, spatially-explicit predictive models of surface water availability under future scenarios of climate change throughout south-eastern Queensland river networks to inform water planning and biodiversity management. It also delivered critical hydrologic information for water utilities to assist water resource modelling and planning for human water security. Read the final report (PDF, 4.8MB) .

    The project was led by Griffith University in collaboration with the Bureau of Meteorology, Seqwater, and Healthy Land and Water.

    Social dimensions in reef water quality modelling

    This project builds upon the existing Reefonomics platform which creates prioritised land management investment portfolios across Great Barrier Reef catchments to deliver greatest water quality benefit per dollar. This project will incorporate social outcomes in the investment portfolio to be considered alongside water quality and economic benefits.

    Truii Ltd Pty is leading the project in collaboration with Eberhard Consulting and the Office of the Great Barrier Reef.

    A discussion paper on groundwater modellers and end users

    The different experiences of modellers and end users can lead to misunderstanding and/or different expectations of desired outcomes in groundwater modelling. In this project, Randall Cox, Groundwater Strategy Consultant conducted 21 interviews with senior modellers and end users to better understand and document the different perspectives. The intent of the discussion paper is to increase the use of groundwater models in informing policy, program and regulatory domains, by highlighting modeller and end user interactions. The paper can also be used to stimulate discussion in other modelling contexts. Read the Discussion paper: The different experiences of groundwater modellers and end users (PDF, 714.7KB) .

    Strategic review of Queensland water models

    Increasing demands for higher quality model outputs in shorter timeframes can result in ‘stretching’ a model beyond the conceptual limits it was originally designed to meet. This project involves a strategic review of Queensland’s water models and their functions, led by BMT Commercial Australia in collaboration with The University of Queensland and The University of Western Australia. A key output will include an assessment framework to help modellers and decision-makers identify opportunities for improvement, integration, or transition to a different model or approach altogether. The final reports from the project can be found on the QWMN publications page.

    Review of the science used in the MEDLI model

    The Model for Effluent Disposal using Land Irrigation (MEDLI) was first released in 1996, and is used to inform regulation and approvals associated with land-based disposal of effluent. MEDLI Version 2 was released in 2015 to allow the model to run on modern operating systems, however the science underpinning the model remained unchanged. This project includes input from four experts reviewing the Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Hydrology components of the Pond and Soil modules within MEDLI. A synthesis document with a set of recommendations will be provided to the QWMN to inform the next update of the MEDLI.

    Gully Erosion Framework to underpin rehabilitation and catchment modelling for Queensland

    This project will develop a standardised framework and guidelines for collecting data on erosion gullies within Queensland. The Precision Erosion and Sediment Management Research Group (PrESM) at Griffith University is leading the project in collaboration with the Queensland Government (Departments of Environment and Science and Natural Resources, Mines and Energy). The framework will refine the gully characterisation framework developed by Griffith University under National Environmental Science Program (NESP) Tropical Water Quality hub; standardise data collection protocols for gullies in Queensland; improve data for catchment modelling; and, consider the associated database structure. This will inform the storage of erosion gully data across Queensland.

    Stream bank erosion in the Great Barrier Reef catchments

    This project investigated the feasibility of applying alternative approaches to model stream bank erosion rates in the Great Barrier Reef catchments. Alluvium led the project with support from Griffith University, Reef Catchments, Fitzroy Basin Association and Wildland Hydrology. Improving stream bank erosion rate prediction in Great Barrier Reef catchments would deliver a better understanding of the key drivers of water quality, informing targeted mitigation strategies to improve water quality in Queensland. The project has undertaken a review of existing bank erosion models and research gaps, recommending a stream-type based approach and multi-temporal analysis as a way forward. Read the final report: Review of existing bank erosion prediction models, opportunities and research gaps report (PDF, 1.4MB) . A key finding of this study was the difficulty in accurately predicting stream bank erosion in all river typologies that exist within Great Barrier Reef catchments.

    In response, a follow-on project by Alluvium explored the accuracy and parameterisation of the Dynamic SedNet model currently used within the Paddock to Reef program in a range of different river types:

    Read: Review of river reach case studies and Dynamic SedNet model parameterisation (PDF, 16.4MB) .

    Visualisation of coupled economic and Queensland water quality models

    This project developed a cloud-based platform to couple water quality and economic models to assess natural resource management investment options for the Great Barrier Reef region. Truii Pty Ltd (in collaboration with the Office of the Great Barrier Reef) developed this platform based on two existing custom tools: the Great Barrier Reef Foundation Reef Planning Investment Tool and the Seqwater Catchment Investment Decision Support System. The platform uses data management functionality to enable revision and updating of the latest available water quality and economic modelling data.

    Model data portal to deliver catchment modelling data to end users

    Successful modelling programs receive constant requests from end users for model results. These requests often require intensive processing. Truii Pty Ltd, in collaboration with the Office of the Great Barrier Reef developed a web-based model data portal to enable the delivery of catchment modelling results from the Paddock to Reef program. Data requesters can create and record data queries which generate data summaries for visualisation and download.

    Addressing uncertainty in coupled water models using machine learning techniques

    Linking models of varying complexity and scope can lead to uncertainties from each individual model, magnifying the uncertainty of final predictions. Data driven models and ensemble machine learning techniques can be used to improve predictions of water quality model outputs. BMT Commercial Australia led this project in partnership with The University of Western Australia and Healthy Land and Water. The outcome of the project developed capability hybridising process-based and data driven water models to improve predictions of model outputs in the context of a south-east Queensland catchment.

    Read the Final Report – Addressing uncertainty in catchment models using machine learning techniques (PDF, 7.2MB) .

    Supporting regional groundwater supply security assessments in Queensland

    Groundwater is a common water supply source for many rural and urban communities within Queensland, with many towns either wholly or partly dependent on groundwater. However, evaluation of this resource is often difficult, making risk assessment and management challenging. Piloted in Monto and Biggenden but with potential statewide relevance, this project delivered a shared understanding of the capability of a community’s water supply system to meet current and forecast future urban water demand, and the associated water supply security risks.

    Prediction of daily rainfall and runoff peak rates to inform hillslope erosion prediction and improve water quality modelling

    This project has provided data improvements and estimation techniques that might allow hillslope erosion predictions of the Paddock to Reef catchment modelling for Reef Plan (for grazing lands) to be more sensitive to cover and management improvements. Delivered by Griffith University, this project developed data products for predictions of runoff depth and the peak runoff rate, at time and spatial scales for improved P2R Catchment modelling for Reef Plan.

    Read the Final Report – Prediction of cover-dependent runoff amount and peak runoff rate for grazing land in Queensland (PDF, 2.2MB) .

    Monitoring and evaluation plan for the QWMN

    Established in 2017, the QWMN is approaching the end of its initial four-year program—providing an opportunity to reflect upon the achievements and lessons learned to date. Alluvium was commissioned to conduct a general assessment of the QWMN (PDF, 4.2MB) (and develop a monitoring and evaluation framework to inform development of the next four years of QWMN investment. The framework featured key evaluation questions and performance indicators which measured the success and impact of the network on Queensland’s water modelling sector.

    Critical review of climate change and water modelling in Queensland

    This project assessed Queensland’s current ability to incorporate climate variability and climate change projections in water models. Bringing together an experienced team of hydrologists, hydroclimate scientists, water quality scientists and practitioners; Alluvium delivered the project in partnership with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and University of Newcastle. Using the best available science, the project provides a clear pathway to consistent, robust modelling approaches for assessing climate change in Queensland water models.

    The outcomes of a workshop, an interview process with key modelling, planning and policy groups and four modelling case studies provided multiple lines of evidence to underpin the Strategic Investment Portfolio in the final project report. The investment portfolio includes 26 recommendations aligning with a primary objective to: Increase Queensland’s ability to understand the impact of climate variability and change on water-related systems, to increase economic, social and ecological resilience.

    The recommendations are linked to five key outcomes which will contribute to achieving the primary objective:

    • Outcome 1: Increase consistency and defensibility of approaches for assessing risks from climate variability and change.
    • Outcome 2: Interpret and summarise the applicability of existing climate science and datasets for Queensland.
    • Outcome 3: Address climate science and water modelling gaps through targeted research initiatives.
    • Outcome 4: Empower individuals and collectives, and facilitate collaboration.
    • Outcome 5: Develop training, communication and guidance materials to support Outcomes 1–4.

    Read the full report Critical review of climate change and water modelling in Queensland (PDF, 5.7MB) .

    Alluvium has developed a stand-alone evaluation criteria and a scoring system to help assess the readiness of water models to account for or incorporate climate change in their use. This independent resource, suitable for use by practitioners in reviewing a model’s treatment of climate and to support decision makers, is now available for application.

    Read Making our water models climate change ready: Are they up to the task? (PDF, 3.1MB) .

    The QWMN is coordinating an integrated response to the final report and investment portfolio recommendations. To get involved, contact QWMN@des.qld.gov.au.

    Improved Source modelling to support catchment management investment decisions

    Source provides a powerful, flexible platform for catchment modelling, but its existing default constituent models (including constituent generation, filtration and transport) are inadequate for catchment management investment decisions. This project, delivered under a collaborative research agreement with ANU, and co-funded by the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy, developed and implemented fit-for-purpose constituent models.

    Improved model governance and management for HowLeaky

    HowLeaky is a one dimensional, soil water balance model that allows users to explore the impacts of soil physical properties, climate, management practices and crop growth on the soil water balance, runoff/erosion and pesticide and nutrient losses. This project, delivered through a collaborative research agreement with USQ, implemented recommendations from the independent review of the HowLeaky model to improve its governance, version control and long-term stability. Read the project report Developing HowLeaky platform for improved governance (PDF, 1.9MB) . A HowLeaky manual (PDF, 4.0MB) has also been developed to support existing and new users of the model.

    Improved model-based decision support through simulator-independent parallelism

    The new generation of in-house and cloud-based computing hardware presents previously unavailable options for massive parallelism. Easily implemented parallelism at the model run level can provide a means through which environmental modelling can progress towards its decision-support potential. This project, delivered by Watermark Numerical Computing, develops a new run manager with a front-end application programmers interface (API) callable from multiple languages and a back end optimised for use in office network environments, and on Windows/Linux high-performance computing clusters. Read the project report Uncertainty analysis and reduction through simplified model run parallelisation (PDF, 647.2KB) .

    Tracking the effectiveness of gully management at reducing bioavailable nutrients

    Modelling and monitoring of dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) generation from eroded sediment helps inform on-ground management interventions such as gully rehabilitation in Great Barrier Reef catchments. This project built on previous work that developed and demonstrated an approach to model DIN generation from eroded sediment using Dynamic Sednet (Project RP178a). This project developed a standard methodology for estimating DIN generation from eroded sediment for application across a range of Paddock to Reef catchment monitoring programs. Led by the Catchment and Riverine Processes team Department of Environment and Science (DES), the project was a collaborative effort from numerous organisations: Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy, TropWATER, James Cook University; Precision Erosion and Sediment Management Research Group, Griffith University; CSIRO; Greening Australia; Fruition Environmental; NQ Dry Tropics; Great Barrier Reef Catchment Loads Monitoring Program, DES; Chemistry Centre, DES; Howley Environmental Consulting; Cape York Monitoring Partnership; and the Burdekin Bowen Integrated Floodplain Management Advisory Committee Inc. Read the project report Towards the standardisation of bioavailable particulate nitrogen in sediment methods (PDF, 2.4MB) .

    Data management and visualisation to support water quality modelling teams

    Data visualisation capability is seen as fundamental in improving uptake and application of model outputs and recommendations by policy makers and resource managers. This project, delivered by Yorb, and co-funded by the Office of the Great Barrier Reef, developed standardised templates for catchment and paddock models, developed standardised data extraction capability and refined the dynamic visualisation layers.

    Improvements to the Dynamic SedNet model

    The Dynamic SedNet model, which underpins Paddock to Reef catchment modelling, is implemented as a series of plugins to the eWater Source system. Independent reviews suggested Dynamic SedNet could be more efficiently implemented outside of eWater Source. This project, delivered by Yorb, and co-funded by the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy, has developed an improved and independent implementation of Dynamic SedNet.

    Integrating paddock scale modelling and water Source models

    This project improved the interface between agricultural systems modelling (paddock scale models) and catchment scale water resource/water quality Source models to inform Reef investment decisions and evaluate best management practice implementation effectiveness. Delivered by Alluvium, this project has improved the representation of daily constituent concentrations entering the Reef. Read the project report Integration of Paddock-Scale Modelling and Source (PDF, 15.5MB) .

    Development of an annotated catalogue of water models in use in government

    This project, delivered by Griffith University, developed an annotated catalogue of the major water models in use by government. The QWMN Water Model Catalogue (PDF, 2.3MB) will serve as a reference for new users and non-experts and facilitate broader and appropriate use of water models in policy and decision-making, inside and outside government.

    Enhanced eWater software to inform water resource planning

    The eWater SOURCE modelling framework has been used to report on Great Barrier Reef plan water quality targets progress since 2009. The increasing complexity of the SOURCE modelling framework is severely impacting run time efficiency in parallel with a growing demand for more integrated model outputs. This project, delivered by eWater and co-funded by the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy, has supported improvements to the core eWater software to enhance model run time efficiency, performance and stability.

    Consensus based streambank and gully conceptual models in Queensland

    This project, led by Dr Ian Prosser, synthesised existing knowledge of biophysical processes driving gully, streambank and channel erosion dynamics, focusing on Queensland catchments and conditions, to develop a conceptual framework to support the use of new process knowledge and spatial information to improve the existing modelling framework. Key to the project was a facilitated workshop involving leading Australian researchers in gully and streambank erosion modelling and monitoring.

    Good modelling practice principles of the Queensland Water Modelling Network

    This project delivered under the Queensland Government's collaborative research agreement with ANU developed a reference document—the Queensland Water Modelling Network Good Modelling Practice Principles (PDF, 1.5MB) —which outlines a current and consistent approach to modelling principles for R&D. It is supporting the broader understanding and use of models in the government, private and university sectors.

    Detailed scope of work to support parallelism of models at the simulator level

    The increasing complexity of environmental models coupled with model calibration demands results in an increased requirement for computational resources. This project, delivered through Watermark Numerical Computing, developed a detailed scope of work for the development of a software suite, which supports parallelism of models at the simulator level.

    Completed programs

    QWMN External Engagement Program

    The QWMN has initiated an External Engagement Program (PDF, 47.2KB) (EEP) to help build the capacity of water modelling and user expertise in Queensland, facilitate engagement across the full range of actors in the Queensland water-modelling ecosystem, and stimulate innovation in all aspects of water modelling and use. A consortium, led by the International Water Centre, is delivering a program of work that complements QWMN activities and investments to facilitate greater collaboration among water modellers, users and decision makers across Queensland, creating a community of water modelling excellence.

    A key initiative is the QWMN Innovation Program where Innovation Associates register for PhD degrees then work directly with industry partners in local and state government and the private sector, to develop practical solutions to state, regional and local economic, environmental and social challenges.

    Other activities include the annual QWMN Forum, a state-wide skills and knowledge audit and response report to guide investment in education, training and workforce capability growth, a Hack, and a mentoring program to nurture and guide students into water modelling as a career path. A dedicated water modelling website has also been developed to showcase the program.

    Consortium members are the Australian Institute of Marine Science, Griffith University, the International Water Centre, Queensland Cyber Infrastructure Foundation, Queensland University of Technology, The University of Queensland, and the University of Southern Queensland.