What is the Water Monitoring Framework?
Water monitoring is central to the stewardship of our water resources. Our capacity to collect, interpret and present monitoring data is fundamental to improving how we manage our water resources and will be greatly enhanced by the Water Monitoring Framework (WMF).
Through establishing a clear understanding of the state of our water resources, the WMF provides the NSW Office of Water with the information we need to quickly identify threats, tackle the causes and prevent future problems. We can respond rapidly to identified problems and the community can have confidence in the NSW Office of Water as the state’s water manager.
The development of a dedicated WMF is a central element of the Government’s response to the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer’s recommendations for increased water monitoring in areas subject to new levels of water extraction or new risks to the water resource.
The data accessible through OURWater includes for the first time the complete groundwater archive. OURWater will continue to be enhanced and upgraded as new information becomes available and new functionality is developed. We will also use mobile technology to make this data more easily available to users with smart phones. Our new smart phone App – WATERLive is available for free download and will work alongside OURWater to make sure the NSW community gets the most benefit from Government’s investment in water monitoring.
OURWater will also be a key source of information for the Government’s planned NSW Environmental Data Portal which once developed will enable the community to access a range of environmental data.
How we monitor
Our extensive monitoring networks for surface and groundwater are sampled in accordance with project specific requirements that tailor a sampling frequency and range of testing parameters to the issue being managed or investigated.
For example in groundwater if we know that the water moves very slowly we will tailor our monitoring sampling frequency to that, testing every six months for example. If the system is known to respond quickly we might sample monthly or weekly or even install real-time sensors to provide instantaneous data.
River flow monitoring on the other hand is incredibly variable and can change rapidly (in a matter of hours). Consequently we have installed real-time data capture for river flow at all our sites so that we know what the rivers are doing at any point in time.
For water quality testing, we monitor specifically to describe the issue at hand. Water quality measurement can be expensive and is why we do not monitor everything everywhere all the time, but tailor our monitoring to those areas of greatest risk or where the issue exists with parameters selected to provide us the necessary information to manage that risk or issue.
Expanding our water monitoring
The Office of Water has been very active in its monitoring, with data from some sites extending back decades. We have seen many changes over time as industries emerge or decline. We responded in 2012 to the emergence of the Coal Gas industry with efforts to expand our monitoring, establishing real-time instrumentation on a number of our monitoring bores and expanding our water quality monitoring in our rivers. We set about drilling new monitoring bores in the areas where industry was now interested.
However community expectation is for even more monitoring by government and as a result we have implemented the Water Monitoring Framework.
The Water Monitoring Framework will expand on the existing activities of the NSW Office of Water through:
- providing you with access to more data from existing licensed bores and monitoring bores and constructing new deep monitoring bores where groundwater has not previously been monitored;
- increasing the extent of surface and groundwater quality monitoring undertaken; and
- increasing the Office of Water’s capability to analyse and interpret water quality by building capacity at its Wollongbar water laboratory.
Construction has already begun on the new deep groundwater monitoring bores. Bores have been completed and are being equipped with real-time monitoring equipment in the Hunter Valley and the Spring Ridge and Gunnedah areas of the Namoi Valley and are under test. Once testing has been completed, this data will come on line. In addition, we have enhanced our ability to provide real-time data to the community by increasing the number of our existing monitoring bores that are equipped to provide this data to the community via OUR Water website or the Water Live App.
Groundwater Level Monitoring Video
Groundwater Baseline Data Project
The Groundwater Baseline Data Project is gathering the facts we need to make informed decisions that ensure our water resources are protected.
Starting first in the Gunnedah, Gloucester and Clarence-Moreton basins, the project gathers and analyses data and information on underground water. Experts have studied groundwater availability in these basins, and carefully analysed where industries such as agriculture and mining draw their water from and the volume allocated within the different systems and determined the relative risks posed. This gathering of baseline information will continue across the state in a prioritised manner.
If you would like to find out more about the way water resources are managed in NSW go to – www.water.nsw.gov.au