Arrangements for Flood Warning Services in Victoria
February 2001



A5. Data Collection Networks ­ Monitoring Roles & Responsibilities

A5.1 Background

Flood warning data collection networks (FW networks) around the State have evolved over many years and have varying degrees of sophistication. They are currently operated under a variety of management arrangements, which typically reflect their evolution as a cooperative effort between interested parties.

Until the mid 1990s, FW networks were predominantly funded by the Commonwealth (via the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM)) and State Government (NRE and its forerunners). Rainfall monitoring was undertaken by the BoM and a variety of State agencies (e.g. rural and urban water authorities, power companies, and the State salinity program). Streamflow monitoring was mainly undertaken by the State Government and rural water authorities with some monitoring also being done by Local Government and the BoM.

As a guide a data collection network can be typically broken down into components of:

  • Capital Costs of Field Instrumentation: rain gauges, monitoring instrumentation (instrument housing, control section, water level sensors etc.), data logging or event reporting devices, data transmission devices (telemetry/telephone/radio/satellite etc.).
  • Maintenance for Field Instrumentation. This includes regular maintenance as well as station ratings (for stage discharge relationship), charges for telephone lines, radio & satellite licences etc.
  • Data processing and archiving as well as data ownership and supply to other parties.
  • Upgrading of Field Instrumentation, including replacement.

Many factors need to be considered with networks. One factor deserving attention is that security of telephone numbers for data equipment connected to telephone lines must be provided along with security for computers and field equipment. Telephone numbers need to be silent numbers and restricted to selected authorities and respective maintenance provider.

A5.2 Upgraded Flood Warning Systems

From the mid 1990s, Commonwealth and State Government initiative funding has been made available for the purposes of upgrading flood warning networks in priority areas. Priorities for such upgrades have been set by the Victorian Flood Warning Consultative Committee (VFWCC). The provision of capital funding for these upgrades is made contingent upon beneficiaries (in most cases Local Government) agreeing to take over responsibility for the operation and maintenance (o&m) of FW equipment installed as part of these network upgrades. Such equipment may be installed at existing monitoring sites, in which case there are generally other parties involved in the monitoring, or at entirely new sites, which may only be of interest to the beneficiaries.

A variety of types of Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) have been, or are in the process of being, developed which outline roles and responsibilities for the operation and maintenance of these upgraded networks. However, arrangements incorporated in these MoUs are not always comprehensive (e.g. the issue of equipment ownership and replacement may not be suitably dealt with in detail), and the arrangements are not necessarily consistent between FW networks. Further, while Local Government authorities may be prepared to contribute to o&m costs, some have indicated that they do not want to be equipment 'owners' or managers of monitoring contracts for these upgraded networks. In some cases, Local Government authorities have arranged for the relevant Catchment Management Authority to take on the management role on their behalf.

A5.3 Monitoring Partnerships

Monitoring is the systematic measurement and recording of rainfall, streamflow quantity and quality that is undertaken by all parties within a region.

A development which also has implications for the management of the monitoring component of FW networks is the monitoring partnership process initiated by NRE in 1997, commencing in the Gippsland Region. This process involves the development of regional monitoring partnerships around the State, with the aim of consolidating all monitoring of rainfall, streamflow quantity and quality that is undertaken by all parties within a region, into one contract. Such an approach allows rationalisation of the monitoring across a region, including the elimination of any duplication, and is expected to result in economies of scale being reflected in reduced costs to the various parties to the partnership.

In the context of these monitoring partnerships, cost sharing arrangements are negotiated between the various parties. Responsibilities for o&m generally rest with the 'beneficiaries' and the issue of equipment replacement is generally being dealt with by applying a loading on the o&m contributions by parties (expected to be of the order of 10 per cent for routine monitoring and 20 per cent for the real time component). This loading provides a funding 'pool' for equipment replacement purposes and is administered by the Manager of the Partnership.

The Flood Warning System relies on an effective and technically modern data collection network. Given the variety of ownership and operation arrangements of current FW networks, and that future FW network upgrades (using Commonwealth and State initiative funding) and monitoring partnerships will be occurring around the state, it is considered essential to clarify and formalise roles and responsibilities for FW networks.

These roles and responsibilities are presented in two 'cases' as described below. These two cases have been designed to cover the various situations that exist around the State in relation to FW network upgrades and the Partnership process. The monitoring roles and responsibilities and two cases are summarised in Table 1.

A5.4 Roles and Responsibilities

CASE 1: Flood Warning Network Prior to Partnership
No Upgrade

The no upgrade part of this case describes the situation where an upgrade of a FW network is not justified ­ that is, an upgrade is not required or is of too low a priority to attract funding. Prior to a monitoring partnership being entered into roles and responsibilities and cost sharing arrangements are as per the status quo. That is:

Ownership
  • Whoever owns equipment continues to own it.
Operation & Maintenance
  • Whoever is paying the o&m continues to pay for it.
Equipment Replacement
  • Responsibility for arranging replacement lies with the owner(s) and/or via negotiation between beneficiaries.
Upgrade

This upgrade part of this case describes the situation where an upgrade of a FW network has occurred prior to a monitoring partnership being entered into. There are two situations described below. The only difference between these two situations is in the ownership of equipment, which differs according to whether the upgrade of the FW network occurred prior to or after 1st January 2000. This distinction has been made because many detailed issues of ownership and related responsibilities were not addressed in FW network upgrades prior to the 1st January 2000, and there was a need for clarification. The date of 1st January 2000 was selected as the defining point in time, following which ownership of equipment installed as part of a FW network upgrade is as per the detailed specifications given below.

Ownership
  • Ownership of equipment provided for a FW network upgrade prior to 1st January 2000 lies with the beneficiaries. In some cases there may be shared ownership of a common piece of equipment e.g. data logger and upgraded water level sensors.
  • Ownership of equipment provided for a FW network upgrade after 1st January 2000 is in accordance with the 'ownership diagrams' below.
  • Ownership of other equipment (i.e. not provided as part of the upgrade) lies with the original owners.
Operation & Maintenance
  • Responsibility for the real time access components of the upgraded FW network lies with the beneficiaries (in most cases, Local Government authorities). Where a rural or urban water authority also requires real time access to a site for the purposes of water supply system operations, they are regarded as a beneficiary and would contribute to these costs.
  • Responsibility for the routine streamflow monitoring component at sites in the upgraded FW network that also have a water resources assessment function and/or a water supply operational function lies with the Primary and/or Secondary Streamflow Parties (see ownership diagrams). The Streamflow Parties are generally the Dept. of Natural Resources and Environment (NRE) and/or a rural water authority (RWA), and/or the Murray Darling Basin Commission (MDBC), but may include other parties such as an urban water authority (UWA) or a Catchment Management Authority (CMA).
  • Responsibility for entirely new streamflow stations that do not have a water resources assessment function and/or a water supply operational function, lies with the beneficiaries.
  • Beneficiaries may arrange for another 'entity' (e.g. a Catchment Management Authority) to manage the FW network on their behalf.
Equipment Replacement
  • Responsibility for arranging replacement lies with equipment owner(s) or, in the situation where beneficiaries have arranged for a funding 'pool' for replacement via loadings on beneficiaries' o&m contributions, with the manager of that 'pool' of funds. In the event that the funding pool is exhausted, responsibility for funding equipment replacement will lie with the owner(s), who may seek contributions from other funding sources and/or may negotiate contributions from other beneficiaries.


CASE 2: Flood Warning Network After Partnership

This case describes the situation after a monitoring partnership has been entered into. Responsibility for managing the monitoring contract in each region lies with the Partnership Manager.

Ownership
  • Parties who were made equipment 'owners' at the time of a FW network upgrade prior to 1st January 2000, will have the option of retaining existing ownership arrangements or transferring ownership of equipment acquired as part of the FW network upgrade to the owners defined in the ownership diagrams.
  • Parties who were made equipment 'owners' at the time of a FW network upgrade after 1st January 2000, will retain existing ownership arrangements (i.e. as defined in the ownership diagrams).
  • Where no upgrade to a FW network has occurred, ownership of equipment lies with the original owners.
  • Ownership of equipment provided for a FW network upgrade after a monitoring partnership has been entered into is as defined in the ownership diagrams.
Operation & Maintenance
  • For already upgraded FW networks, and where upgrades to a FW network occur after the monitoring partnership has been entered into, responsibility for funding the o&m for real time access components, and all equipment at FW only sites installed as part of the upgrade, lies with the beneficiaries. In some cases there may be shared responsibility for a jointly owned piece of equipment e.g. data logger and upgraded water level sensors.
  • Responsibility for funding the routine streamflow monitoring component at sites in the upgraded FW network that also have a water resources assessment function and/or a water supply operational function lies with the Primary and/or Secondary Streamflow Parties.
  • Where no upgrade to a FW network has occurred, responsibility for funding the o&m of real time access components remains with the existing funders, who may negotiate contributions from beneficiaries.
Equipment Replacement
  • Responsibility for arranging equipment replacement lies with the Partnership Manager who will access the funding 'pool' created by the loadings applied to the o&m contributions from the various parties to the Partnership. In the event that the funding pool is exhausted, responsibility for funding equipment replacement will lie with the owner(s), who may seek contributions from other funding sources and/or may negotiate contributions from other beneficiaries. The Partnership Manager is not obliged to arrange the replacement of equipment if the beneficiaries are not prepared to cover ongoing o&m costs.


A5.5 Withdrawal from involvement in data collection networks

Ownership of equipment provided as part of FW network upgrades involves a variety of parties. In the event that any of these parties withdrawing from participation in the FW network, ownership of equipment provided as part of the upgrade would transfer back to the State (Dept. of Natural Resources and Environment) and Commonwealth (the BoM) Government.

In the event of such a transfer there is no obligation to continue with the equipment if the beneficiaries are not prepared to cover the ongoing operation and maintenance costs.



Equipment Ownership Diagrams

The following diagrams indicate ownership of new equipment installed as part of a FW network upgrade after the 1st January 2000.

(a) Stand alone raingauge site

(b) Stand alone streamflow site

(c) Combined rainfall and streamflow site

  • SF = Streamflow. The Primary Streamflow Party is the designated site owner as negotiated in the context of the monitoring Partnership.
  • In the situation where the Primary Streamflow Party does not have a need for real time access to information, and there is another (Secondary) Streamflow Party(s) with an interest in real time access, the Secondary Party(s) will be the owner of the real time access components.


Table 1 Flood Warning Data Collection Networks
Summary of Monitoring Roles and Responsibilities

CASE 1: FW Network Prior to Partnership
No Upgrade of FW Network FW Network Upgrade
Ownership Existing owners
  • Upgrade prior to 1 January 2000
    Responsibilities: Beneficiaries (some shared ownership of equipment)
  • Upgrade after 1 January 2000
    Responsibilities: Owners as per ownership diagrams
  • Other equipment not provided as part of the upgrade
    Responsibilities: Original owners
Operation & Maintenance Existing funders
  • Real time access components of upgraded FW network
    Responsibilities: Beneficiaries
  • Routine streamflow monitoring at sites in the upgraded FW network with a water resources assessment function and/or a water supply operational function
    Responsibilities: Primary and/or Secondary Streamflow Parties (see ownership diagrams)
  • Entirely new streamflow stations in the upgraded FW network without a water resources assessment function and/or a water supply operational function
    Responsibilities: Beneficiaries
Arranging Equipment Replacement Owner(s) and/or via negotiation
between beneficiaries
Responsibilities: Equipment owner(s) or between beneficiaries Manager of a replacement funding 'pool' (where this exists) or, in the event that the funding pool is exhausted
Responsibilities: Equipment owner(s), who may seek contributions from other funding sources and/or may negotiate contributions from other beneficiaries.


CASE 2: FW Network After Partnership
No Upgrade of FW Network FW Network Upgrade
Ownership Original owners
  • Upgrade prior to 1 January 2000
    Responsibilities: Existing owners , or as per ownership diagrams
  • Upgrade after 1 January 2000
    Responsibilities: As per ownership diagrams
  • Upgrade after monitoring partnership
    Responsibilities: As per ownership diagrams
Operation & Maintenance
  • Where no upgrade to a FW network has occurred, responsibility for funding the o&m of real time access components
    Responsibilities: Existing funders who may negotiate contributions from beneficiaries.
  • For already upgraded FW networks, and where upgrade occurs afters the monitoring partnership, responsibility for funding and o&m for real time access components, and all equipment at FW only sites.
    Responsibilities: Beneficiaries (some shared responsibility for jointly owned equipment)
  • Routine streamflow monitoring at sites in the upgraded FW network with a water resources assessment function and/or a water supply operational function
    Responsibilities: Primary and/or Secondary Streamflow Parties (see ownership diagrams)
Arranging Equipment Replacement
Responsibilities: Partnership Manager or, in the event that the replacement funding pool is exhausted.
Responsibilities: Equipment owner(s), who may seek contributions from other funding sources and/or may negotiate contributions from other beneficiaries.
Note: The Partnership Manager is not obliged to arrange the replacement of equipment if the beneficiaries are not prepared to cover ongoing o&m costs
Responsibilities: Partnership Manager or, in the event that the replacement funding pool is exhausted.
Responsibilities: Equipment owner(s), who may seek contributions from other funding sources and/or may negotiate contributions from other beneficiaries.
Note: The Partnership Manager is not obliged to arrange the replacement of equipment if the beneficiaries are not prepared to cover ongoing o&m costs


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