FAQ – Regional Water Information

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What is Regional Water Information?

Regional Water Information is a web portal that allows access to nationally consistent water resource assessment information. The portal contains assessments of Australia's water resources and climatic conditions and shows regional variability and trends in water resources and patterns of water use over various time periods. Regional Water Information draws on, integrates and analyses information from many sources to paint a rich picture of Australia's water resources.

Spatially distributed water resource information is presented as viewable maps, statistics and graphical time series analysis. It allows users to explore this information for different regions and for different time periods. Data are also downloadable for technical users seeking to undertake their own analysis.

The product also complements the annual Water in Australia report summarising the water resource conditions across Australia in the context of climate, water availability and water use.

Users are also encouraged to use other related water information products of the Bureau: http://www.bom.gov.au/water/index.shtml

What can you do with Regional Water Information?

Regional Water Information contains information and analyses from a range of data sources to allow users to explore the status of Australian water resources. Using the information tool enables users to gain a better understanding of water resource conditions for a region and time period of choice and see how these conditions compare to the past. The portal can assist in examining the impacts and sustainability of current water management practices and can inform the design of water resource policies and plans. The portal has several functionalities:

  • User selection: choose an assessment type, a type of region and time period of interest from the selection area and then zoom and click on the map to select a region of interest.
  • Explore map contents with pan and zoom.
  • Explore time series data by selecting the graph tab to see how the conditions in the selected region vary over the time.
  • Investigate statistics for a region by selecting the statistics tab. To compare statics, repeat this for other regions in a separate browser tab or window.
  • Download the underlying data for your own analysis if required by selecting the option at the lower left of the map.
What information is included?

Regional Water Information provides information on the spatial and temporal variations of the status of important aspects of water resources in Australia. The portal provides assessment about:

  • How have streamflows responded to climatic conditions? How many stations had high flows? Where there any stations with extreme flows, such as the lowest or highest on record? What did that mean in terms of flow volumes and water supply?
  • How has water been used for different purposes and what is the spatial pattern of use?
  • What was the status and trends of groundwater? Were groundwater levels rising or falling and if so were they above, below or at average levels?
  • What was the salinity status of streamflow and groundwater? How variable is the streamflow salinity over time? Which areas have streamflow and groundwater salinity values that exceed limits for urban and/or agricultural water use
  • How much rainfall was falling onto the landscape? Was rainfall very much above average or below average? Were there areas with exceptional rainfall or areas with severe rainfall deficiencies? What was the spatial distribution? What is the average rainfall across Australia or in various regions?
  • How much water remained on the landscape after much of the water was transferred back to the atmosphere by plants and evaporated (rainfall minus evapotranspiration)? Were soil moisture stores refilled or was there a deficit? Also, what was the landscape's ability to produce runoff and where did most of it occur? By how much was this more or less than the historical average?
Where does the information come from?

The Bureau of Meteorology collects, standardises, stores and analyses water resource information from lead water agencies around Australia to ensure the best available information is on hand to understand water resource conditions across the country. For more information on the Bureau's role in its Water Information Program refer to: www.bom.gov.au/water/about/.

The Bureau of Meteorology complements its water data collection with modelled spatial datasets on aspects of the water cycle which is difficult to measure on a nation-wide scale, such as soil moisture, evapotranspiration and streamflow generation (see www.bom.gov.au/water/landscape/).

In addition, some water use information is derived from published reports (see references in Water in Australia).

More detailed information can be obtained from the metadata page.

What types of regions are available?

The portal provides water resource information grouped by States, River Regions, Water in Australia regions and a national overview. There are additional boundaries available for viewing (only) of irrigation, water utility and groundwater management areas.

Which time periods are used for the graphs and statistics?

Various time periods are used depending on data availability. Data availability for rainfall, rainfall minus evapotranspiration, soil moisture and runoff is for a period of more than 100 years (since 1911). Streamflow data after 1975 is used where high quality data and a good spatial coverage are available. Storage data are presented since 2000. Groundwater trends for the level use a time period of 5 years to reflect short-term fluctuations of this important and mostly hidden water resource. The status of groundwater levels compared current year bore levels with the last 20 years. Groundwater salinity is given as a 20-year average

How often is the data updated?

The data is updated on an annual basis, after the end of the financial year (30 June). Timing of the updates depends on the availability of data. Typically, hydro-climatic information (streamflow, storage volumes, streamflow salinity, rainfall, rainfall minus evapotranspiration, soil moisture and runoff) will be updated within five months of the end of the financial year and water use information within ten months of the end of the financial year.

Where can I find more detailed and up-to-date information?

There are several products which do this, namely:

Water Status

Water Data

  • Water Data Online: a portal to explore and download streamflow data for more than 3000 gauging stations across the country (see www.bom.gov.au/waterdata/).
  • Australian Landscape Water Balance: a portal to access and download Australian Water Resource Model 5km x 5km grid information for various time periods and topics, including rainfall, evapotranspiration, soil moisture and runoff (see http://www.bom.gov.au/water/landscape/).
  • National Groundwater Information System: a spatial database for GIS specialists that contains a range of groundwater information submitted by States and Territories. The System contains more than 800 000 bore locations with associated lithology logs, bore construction logs and hydro stratigraphy logs (see www.bom.gov.au/water/groundwater/ngis/).
  • Climate Resilient Water Sources: an interface providing views, downloads and accepting contributions to data on Australia's alternative water sources, including recycled water and desalinated water (see www.bom.gov.au/water/crews/introduction.shtml).
  • Climate maps of recent and average conditions: a series of viewable or downloadable national or State based maps showing rainfall and other climate conditions ranging in resolution from 1 day to multiple years (see www.bom.gov.au/climate/maps/).
What has changed since September 2016?

The navigational structure of the product has been updated in September 2016 to better reflect the essential components of the availability and use of surface water and groundwater resources. Water quality and effective rainfall have been included to reflect the assessments made in the Water in Australia reports. For the same reason, the spatial information on potential and actual evapotranspiration has been left out. Information about these topics can still be found on the landscape water balance model website.

The AWRA landscape water balance model underwent an upgrade to version 5 during 2015 and for consistency between years in RWI it has been used to produce effective rainfall, soil moisture and runoff data for each year.

In December 2016, the 2015–16 hydro-climatic information was added and a new topic, storage volume, was included. The storage volume information has been backfilled for the 2013–14 and 2014–15 years. Another inclusion is the appearance of a summary tab for the 2015–16 data at the national, and States and Territories levels. These summaries provide a concise overview of each topic and how they relate to other topics during the year.

Why do rainfall values differ slightly from those given elsewhere on the Bureau's website?

Rainfall values in this product are correct at the time of analysis (about two months after the end of the assessment year). Values may differ from those shown in products that are regularly updated, for example the near-real-time summaries of Australia's climate, or the Bureau's climate variability and change tracker pages.

Averages, deciles, anomalies and per cent departure from the long-term mean in this product are for the period 1911 to the assessment year, and will differ from those in products that use a climate average for a different period (e.g. 1961 to 1990).

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