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Model applications

The MDBA and its river management partners use a variety of models to support the planning and running of the Murray–Darling Basin’s rivers. Some of these models are described below.

River Murray and Lower-Darling River systems model (Source)

The Source Murray Model  is a daily time-step model that represents the River Murray and Lower Darling systems and been built in the Source IMS software platform.  Source includes:

  • System inflows
  • Flow routing and losses
  • Irrigation, stock and domestic, town water supply and environmental demands
  • Inter-state water sharing, allocation and ownership
  • Definition of State Water access rights, allocation and accounting
  • Water trade
  • Water ordering and the operation of dams and infrastructure
  • Transport of salt .

Source can be configured and used for a number of different scenarios and purposes to help inform policy development as well as the operation and management of the system.

Hydrodynamic modelling

Hydrodynamic models consider the topography of the river channel and floodplain, and can include structures such as wetland regulators. Hydrodynamic models are calibrated using the best available data, including measured flows, water levels and satellite images of flooding.

These models help water managers and river operators with:

  • Predictions of likely flood behaviour during environmental watering
  • Documentating flooding after watering events and estimates of environmental water-use.

This information also contributes to long-term planning models. It is used to compare the advantages and risks of different operating strategies for environmental watering schemes on the River Murray.

The models cover the major floodplain areas along the River Murray including:

  • Hume Dam to Yarrawonga
  • Barmah-Millewa forests
  • Koondrook-Perricoota and Gunbower forests
  • Hattah Lakes
  • Lock 10 to Lock 6 including Lindsay, Mulcra and Wallpolla Islands and the Chowilla floodplain.

Integrated river systems modelling framework

Different agencies, including the State Agencies, MDBA, Snowy Hydro Ltd, have developed different individual models for the different valleys across the Basin. Each individual model has been developed and calibrated by its originating agency, and most have been rigorously peer reviewed and accredited. These models are considered the best available, fit-for-purpose and have been used to inform water resource management in the Basin for many years.  However, since these models only represent individual valleys, to assess Basin-wide responses to any policy or natural changes, all these different models are required to be connected. The Water Act 2007 (Cwth) requires the MDBA to develop an integrated modelling framework to be able to connect these different models.

Towards this end, CSIRO developed an Integrated River System Modelling Framework (IRSMF) for the Basin that allowed the different river system models to be linked. The IRSMF was adopted and enhanced by the MDBA. The IRSMF currently connects over 20 different models and was used to inform the Basin Plan  and SDL adjustment assessments.