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Session - - 25.0 mins - Plenary Room
Ms. Sarangarel will be sharing Mongolia’s experience of valuing the environment, river management and actions taken to protect these precious resources and ecosystems. Mongolia has over 4000 rivers and streams which collectively extend over 60 million kilometres, however water scarcity is an issue. Water management including the implementation of strengthened IWRM plans is one of the goals for the newly elected Mongolian Government. 
Session - - 10.0 mins -
Session - - 60.0 mins - Plenary Room
Session - - 10.0 mins -
The Murray-Darling Basin’s rivers, floodplains and wetlands are vital for sustaining healthy communities and economies.

Rivers and wetlands have been changed to provide water for towns, industry and food production. This has seen the health of our rivers and wetlands decline. 

In response, the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder now looks after approximately 15% of the managed water resource (outside of flood times) to achieve outcomes for the environment. 

The Australian Government’s investment in water for the environment is a world first and is critical to ensuring our rivers are able to support future generations. 

The Commonwealth Environmental Water Office (CEWO) delivers water for the environment to the Basin’s rivers and wetlands when and where plants and animals need it most. The water helps connect rivers, allows native fish breeding and migration, supports waterbirds and improves the production and quality of our rivers.
Over the last five years, Commonwealth Environmental Water has:

  • Inundated 25 856 km of rivers, 28 291 ha of lakes, 158 487 ha of wetlands and 26 547 ha of floodplain;
  • Helped maintain 11 of 16 internationally significant Ramsar sites in the Basin;
  • Supported over 1 million waterbirds and helped maintain over 10 per cent of Australasian bittern populations;
  • Promoted diversity of vegetation across the Basin; &
  • Helped increase in-stream productivity (fish food) and supported spawning of native fish like golden perch and Murray cod.

To help build a picture of the effectiveness of water for the environment and to inform water deliveries, the CEWO has invested around $80M into monitoring, research and evaluation projects. 
This presentation will share some of the recent results from five years of long-term monitoring of hydrology, vegetation, fish, ecosystem diversity, biodiversity, stream metabolism and water quality across the Basin.

This is the critical evidence we need to understand how water for the environment is helping maintain, protect, and restore ecosystems and biodiversity across the Basin.

The redclaw crayfish, Cherax quadricarinatus (von Martens, 1868), inhabits freshwater creeks and water bodies, and is native to the tropics of Queensland and the Northern Territory in Australia, as well as south-eastern Papua New Guinea. It has been translocated to other parts of Australia and around the world, often becoming established in the wild and potentially having negative impacts in invaded ecosystems. In north-western Australia, which lacks native crayfish, this species is known from the Ord River system in the Kimberley Region and from a water supply reservoir, Harding Dam, in the Pilbara region. Following a report of their presence in another area of the Pilbara region, Karijini National Park, a rapid assessment of crayfish occurrence was undertaken in and around Karijini and Millstream-Chichester National Parks. Redclaw crayfish were found at the known site within Karijini National Park and at a river pool west of the park. They were also detected in George River within Millstream-Chichester National Park. A separate baseline aquatic fauna survey, undertaken later as part of a mining environmental impact assessment, also recorded populations of the species in a tributary of the Fortescue River, located between these parks. The survey suggests that redclaw presence is associated with significant reorganisation of faunal and floral assemblages of river pools. With the new records presented here, the redclaw crayfish is now known from four catchments in the Pilbara Region, spread across three of the region’s five drainage basins. Management options for this alien species are limited in this remote area, but would require further surveys to better understand their current distribution and dispersion capability, setting up public education campaigns and targeted control measures to minimise their spread to new catchments and their impact on high conservation value aquatic ecosystems.
The Commonwealth Government has spent $6.7 billion recovering water under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan to increase river flows and improve the health of the Basin’s ecosystems. Our analysis provides a valley-by-valley assessment of whether the 2,100 GL of water recovered so far has resulted in expected river flows at key sites given the climatic conditions including drought periods.

Adequate river flows underpin the environmental, social and economic outcomes of the Basin Plan. Measuring the success of the Basin Plan based on real river flows is critically important, but no official reports estimate whether the water recovered resulted in the expected flows. 

In this work, we compared observed river flows using flow gauges at 27 sites against expected river flows under prevailing climatic conditions, including accounting for dry and drought periods, from 2012/13 to 2018/19. Expected river flows were estimated by sampling the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s (MDBA) hydrological models as well as accounting for the level of environmental water recovery. 

Since 2012, 20% of the water expected each year under the Basin Plan did not flow past these sites (320 GL/y on average). While some sites received the expected flows, most sites including those upstream of Ramsar wetlands of international importance did not. 

Observed flows at 24 of 27 sites were lower than expected, even accounting for the climatic conditions. Of these, 13 received less than three quarters of the expected flows and three received less than half of the expected flows. 

Basin Governments need to investigate and fix shortfalls in river flows so the Basin Plan provides the expected water for ecosystems, communities and industries that rely on healthy flowing rivers.

The tributary streams of the Tonlé Sap lake in central Cambodia have frequent biodiverse upstream migrations of potadromous fish from the lake into the catchment streams. These migrations are essential for accessing spawning, feeding and refuge habitats within these tributary streams and can be negatively affected by the construction of dams, weirs, regulators, culverts and pipes. Accumulations of fish below barriers are vulnerable to exploitation and overfishing and can no longer access the habitat required to complete their life cycles. This may lead to declines in fish stocks both within the tributary streams and the Tonlé Sap itself. In 2019 a cone fishway was constructed on the Kbal Hong Weir in the Stung Pursat River, a southern tributary of the Tonlé Sap. The 24 cell cone fishway was subsequently monitored during the 2019 wet season, with over 800,000 fish of 115 species recorded moving through the fishway. Paired top/bottom trapping of the fishway demonstrated that there was no inhibition for most species in passing through the fishway, although there were noticeable variations in catch associated with flow in the river.  The success of this fishway at passing Cambodian fish through a fishway demonstrates that this technology may be a viable solution for the remediation of barriers to fish movement within the Tonlé Sap catchment.
Lessons can be learnt from the agreement and the implementation of delivering environmental flows to the Snowy River, that may help enhance future river restoration agreements. In 2002, after a series of negotiations, Australian governments agreed to deliver environmental flows to the Snowy River. The agreement was entrenched in the Snowy Water Inquiry Outcome Implementation Deed. This research is a first attempt to establish whether the delivery of environmental flows has honoured the intent of this agreement in the context of what was legally agreed to and what the expectation and understanding was of those involved. This was achieved through triangulation of analysis of relevant government documents, semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders and flow data since 2002. One conclusion is the delivery has not honoured the intent of the agreement. Accordingly, several institutional gaps were identified: there was no trigger to review and improve management, no clear articulation - grounded in science - of what was wanted for the Snowy River, and there were gaps in independent advice.  
The Myan (Hunter River in New South Wales Australia) is one of the largest coastal catchments in New South Wales, Australia. It has been subject to extensive disturbance from previous and current European land use but is still a critical life force interconnected to greater cultural landscape of deep antiquity and attachment to the Awabakal, Worimi and Wonnarua peoples.

The Hunter Valley Flood Mitigation Scheme (scheme) came into being in 1956 in part, as a response to the 1955 Maitland flood. The scheme plays an important role in managing flood risk for the communities of the Hunter Valley. In line with NSW Government’s legislative and policy objectives for Aboriginal communities and their cultural heritage the Department has embarked upon a journey to improve its understanding and protection of Aboriginal heritage and cultural values and partner with communities to deliver social, cultural and economic outcomes. 

Hear about that journey from the perspectives of three of the partners – the Department, the Community and the Heritage Consultant.

In 2018, the Australian Parliament allowed an adjustment of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan’s Sustainable Diversion Limits (SDLs) under the assumption that a package of 36 projects at a cost of $1.1 billion will achieve ‘equivalent environmental outcomes’ to 605 GL of environmental water. We review case studies drawn from these projects and examine their risks/benefits, scientific validity, and likely cost-efficacy. We find that (a) certain projects (measures improving river connectivity such as Enhanced Environmental Water Delivery (EEWD), constraints relaxation) are supported by available science and present relatively high cost-efficacy, whereas other projects (infrastructure-based works such as Nyah and Koondrook-Perricoota Floodplain Management Works) have limited scientific grounding, present greater risks and relatively low cost-efficacy; (b) certain projects (EEWD, constraints) have a far more significant role in achieving equivalent environmental benefits either on their own or enabling the success of other projects; and (c) the efficacy of these projects will only become apparent over a multi-year period. Sufficient data is required for a rigorous assessment prior to the proposed Reconciliation in 2024 – a program that would need to reconcile any gaps between agreed objectives and delivered outcomes. We recommend a 3-tiered review criteria that considers inputs (expenditures, implementation), outputs (measures meet operational targets), and outcomes (observable long-term ecological benefits), as well as consistent monitoring and greater transparency. The ‘lessons learnt’ from Australia’s Murray Darling hold international significance as governments need to consider risks and costs of substituting water volumes with projects claiming to deliver equivalent or better environmental outcomes, over alternatives such as water buybacks.
Worldwide, floodplains have been alienated from river channels by dams, levee banks and other infrastructure, constructed for flood protection and water resource development for irrigation, constraining flows to within-channel. Recently, several programs have restored connectivity, generating considerable ecological, social and economic benefits. As part of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, water purchased from irrigators is used to restore wetlands. Maximising ecological benefits with limited water requires constraints relaxation, whereby high flow volumes needed for an ecologically effective flood are released from headwater dams and allowed to flood public and private land en route to wetlands downstream, which requires infrastructure works and acquisition of flood easements from landholders. We examined five focal areas identified in the 2014 Basin Constraints Management Strategy to determine ecosystem services benefits generated by floods on land between dams and target wetlands. From a document analysis of focus area business cases, we found multiple examples where significant co-benefits could be realised but had not been identified. We categorised ecosystem services for each focal area as of low, medium or high importance and, where possible, assigned indicative monetary values. Regulating and cultural services, rather than provisioning services, ranked highest across all focus areas, including groundwater recharge, regulation of riparian habitat quality, aesthetic appreciation, recreation and tourism, Indigenous and community values. We consider that an ecosystem services approach could greatly improve acceptance of constraints relaxation amongst landholders and help advance the implementation of the Basin Plan.

The Menindee Lakes are a series of interconnected lakes within the Murray–Darling Basin located along the Darling River floodplain in the arid, south-west region of New South Wales. About 200 km downstream of the Lakes the Darling River joins the River Murray at Wentworth. The Menindee Lakes are characterised by highly variable inflows and the degree to which the Darling River system has contributed to the River Murray System has been highly variable and not well understood. With an increase in development of permanent plantings along the lower Murray, and discussions surrounding the implications of upstream development and climate change on Darling inflows, the role of the Darling River to deliver water to the River Murray System is the focus of this study. This study investigates the historical inflows, storage levels and management of the Menindee lakes and the Darling’s contribution to the River Murray since 1989.. Over this period, inflows into the Menindee Lakes and the Lakes’ storage levels have declined. As a result, the Darling River inflows to the River Murray have also declined, but the proportion of flows to the River Murray downstream of Wentworth has remained relatively constant at 15%. An interesting observation is that despite declining inflows the proportion of outflow from the lakes that is spill has remained relatively constant.  Over the 31 years, the contribution of the Darling River as a proportion of regulated (entitlement) flow to South Australia has been highly variable but is gradually declining. Overall, this study contributes to understanding of the importance of the Darling River to the overall supply to the River Murray System and highlights recent changes in water availability, which will inform future management decisions.

Lima, the capital of Peru, is home to a third of the country´s population and generates more than half of the national GDP. Water demand is expected to increase in at least 25% in the next twenty years in the city. In Lima, the water utility company SEDAPAL is in charge of designing, formulating and implementing catchment management projects. To do this, the company has relied on previous experiences of catchment management initiatives developed by NGOs in the high catchment of the Rimac River catchment.

The projects developed by NGOs are based on a process of social capital built with local peasant communities who own the land in the high catchments. These projects have shown that traditional knowledge is indeed necessary for developing catchment management projects that are socially accepted by highlands peasant communities. However, the role of these communities and their traditional water management techniques might have been taken for granted without being considered nor recognized within the established integrated water management scheme for Lima city. The purpose of the research is to contribute to understand how the inclusion of cultural aspects of water management can help to ensure social sustainability for catchment management projects in the context integrated water management in Lima.

In this research a case study approach with the peasant community of San Pedro de Casta was used, on which semi-structured interviews were done to relevant stakeholders from government agencies, NGOs, universities and community members involved in catchment management. After gathering the data, a thematic analysis was made to identify main themes and ideas that helped to answer the research question. The main findings are presented in this report, and also a full video of the research was done as a product that could give a voice to participants to express and expose their concerns, ideas, beliefs and opinions within the case study context.

Uncontrolled and mostly illegal extraction of river sand from riverbeds for construction is killing rivers across South Asia. It has been difficult to advocate for sustainable sand mining as a majority of reporters on Sand mining in South Asia were killed/ threatened.  Such sand mining practices from Transboundary rivers are rarely reported from south Asia.  

The mahakali river is the transboundary river that demarks the political boundary of Nepal and India in most of the places in the western part of Nepal. Riverine communities of Nepal and India are dependent on riverine resources. The dependencies of riverine communities have been impacted due to the high demand for sand for the development work. It includes a decrease in fishes, flash floods, polluted water, change in the river course, flash flood, limited precautions on sand collectors etc. These problems were documented through Women Empowerment Centres (Groups of Women from Mahakali) formed through Transboundary Rivers of South Asia project.

Mines and Minerals Rules, 2056 (1999), Local Self Governance Act 1999 and Environmental Assessment Guideline 1993 of Nepal has provided authority to local government to conduct sand mining which is regarded as the source of revenue generation. Mines and Minerals Rules, 2056 (1999), Local Self Governance Act 1999 and Environmental Assessment Guideline 1993 of Nepal has provided authority to local government to conduct sand mining which is regarded as the source of revenue generation. The government of Nepal has a practice of engaging private contractors to extract river sand. The illegal mining in Nepal has not been documented properly and the physical, socio-economic, and environmental impacts of such extraction are difficult to count. In contrast, for the legal contracts also, local communities have protested against such mining as these communities residing in the bank of the river have already experienced impacts of soil erosion during monsoon.

The study showed that sand mining guideline at Bhimdatta municipality has helped contractors to consider environment-friendly practices respecting the communities’ access and control over mining for equitable sharing of benefits to the communities. It has also helped to provide opportunity to ensure the availability of the adequate quantity of aggradate in a sustainable manner, protection of bank erosion, maintain river equilibrium, streamline and simplify the mining process, smooth river flow, and restoring riparian rights as highlighted in IEE report. Further, it has helped to protect the right of riverine communities of both the countries increasing occupational health and safety measures and support for transboundary cooperation and collaboration among the policymakers and community. The findings show the increased trust among communities and local government of both countries. 

Session - - 180.0 mins - Plenary Room
The Save our Rivers Ball will be live-streamed from Customs House in Brisbane, Australia and will feature:
  • A prominent Indigenous keynote speaker to kick off the evening;
  • International entertainment, live-streamed from around the world;
Funds from the Save Our Rivers Ball will contribute to putting a stop to this rapid decline by implementing the Resilient Rivers Blueprint in a developing country. This innovative resilience framework will see tangible changes in the way the river basin is managed, setting the river on a journey towards resilience and ensuring the river is sustainable, vibrant and healthy for future generations 
#23rd International Riversymposium
23rd International Riversymposium
#23rd International Riversymposium