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State Water Monitoring Network

The department undertakes groundwater, surface water and some weather and climate monitoring in South Australia via an extensive network called the State Water Monitoring Network.

Data collected through the network:

  • enables the development and implementation of Water Allocation Plans to manage the state’s most heavily used water resources.
  • enables regular status reporting on prescribed and non-prescribed water resources
  • supports emergency and hazard managers and assists in mitigating the impacts of flood, drought and other environmental hazard events
  • informs the operation of infrastructure on the River Murray and South East Water Conservation and Drainage Scheme
  • informs decision making in non-government organisations reliant on water data
  • assists with water trade and related services
  • informs the public.

Asset management

An important role of the department is to manage and improve the network’s assets. This is to ensure the integrity of the data that is collected, which ensures we can rely on the data’s quality with certainty.

The NRM Act requires that assets be compliant to minimum standards. We mitigate against the risks that arise from deteriorating assets by implementing a maintenance schedule.

We are continually working on upgrading and maintaining the state network. See our projects and activities to find out what we’re doing now.

Monitoring over time

Some sites are monitored continually over decades, creating an extensive dataset that can be analysed to identify long term and slow moving trends in water status and condition. These are called Baseline monitoring sites. An extensive Baseline data collection now exists with groundwater and surface water records dating back to 1881 and 1838 respectively.

Other sites are monitored over short to medium periods, and these are designed to meet the needs of a particular management action, business operation, regulatory approval condition or project. These groups of sites are known as Compliance & Impact, Operational, Regulatory or Project monitoring sites.

Network design

Across South Australia, sites are located in places that provide the necessary data to enable high quality reporting and confident water management.

Field officers visit monitoring sites at regular intervals to record the values of each parameter monitored and conduct site maintenance.

Technology advancements are making monitoring easier, more accurate and safer. Advancements in communications technology have also made the water data more accessible.

The design of the network does not remain static; it evolves to address new threats and risks, and to continue to reflect changes in land use and climate that may impact on water resources. Most of the monitoring sites are in prescribed areas, where water resources are in high demand and require careful management. In non-prescribed areas where resource use is lower, sites are more dispersed.

We conduct a major review every five years of the distribution of sites and how frequently they are visited. The review recommends modifications to the network that ensure it remains optimised and delivers data for South Australia that meets the needs of water managers and water users.

Monitoring conducted by other government and non-government organisations including the South Australian Environment Protection Agency, SA Water, the Bureau of Meteorology, regional NRM Boards and community organisations, is integrated with the department’s data.