November 2011

Release of the BoMs very first Australian Water Resources Assessment report

10.11.2011 - Posted by David Barratt
The Bureau of Meteorology’s inaugural Australian Water Resources Assessment report (AWRA 2010) is now available. A large part of my three years at the Bureau was invested in the production of this information resource. Broadly, I was responsible for scoping and planning the report, leading the team that produced it and engaging with its many stakeholders, reviewers and contributors.
It took almost two years to produce, and represents a first but important step by the Bureau in providing water resources information in a consistent and coherent fashion across the country.

You can download a compressed version of the whole document, or separate chapters on each region. There’s also a Technical supplement, which I quite like, that helps understand how the various analyses were carried out.

The report is a part of the Bureaus obligations under the Commonwealth Water Act 2007. They are meant to be produced each year and aim to:
  • monitor the hydrological state of rivers, storages, wetlands and aquifers and publish hydrometric statistics for key sites
  • highlight patterns, trends and variability in water availability, quality and use at regional and national scales over time scales of months to decades
  • provide analyses of varying complexity predominantly in the form of readily interpretable maps, graphs and tables.
The information is particularly intended to assist policy-makers and planners to understand the current state of the nation’s water resources and to gauge the impact of past and present water management practices.

Getting this report done was a massive job, particularly as we had to access almost all the data manually (climate, groundwater, surface water, soil moisture, streamflow, floods, water use, urban, irrigation etc...) from literally dozens of different sources, then check it, analyse it, interpret it, communicate it and publish it for 12 Drainage Divisions covering the continent, while at the same time publishing the National Water Account 2010.

I’m very proud of this report and the people involved. The dedication and commitment of almost every single person was well above and beyond the call. In fact, my experiences with a number of projects like this over the years in the APS is the reason I get angry when I hear people collectively dishing the work ethic of public servants!

Anyway, enjoy - and feel free to ask me about any of it if you’re interested.