Investment in research is fundamental to sustaining water quality as development pressures increase in the future.
The cornerstone to Seqwater’s strategic approach to research is to build collaborative partnerships with national and international research institutions as well as enhancing internal capacity to be a research provider to the water industry.
Seqwater undertakes research focusing on catchment management, storage processes and predictivemodeling to guide decision making.
Catchment management research is designed to improve understanding of water quality hazards which leads to strategies to better manage the risk of these hazards such as the flow of potential pollutants to waterways, particularly during periods of heavy rain and flooding.
Seqwater uses catchment managementresearch to work closely with land owners to improve management practices on all land uses across the region’s catchments.
Examples of current projects that address these aims are:
- Natural sequence farming - modifying the water quality of catchment run off through altered land use and modification to flow path, to improve soil condition and farm productivity.
- Fire management – identifying a pasture burning regime that will increase soil organic matter, vegetation cover and farm productivity, while still delivering advantages such as weed control, pasture modification and improved water quality.
- Weed control – identifying the extent of invasive species around water storages and investigating the potential treatments to restrict expansion and reduce weed impacts to water quality.
- Managing grazing – investigating various methods, such as off stream watering and shade areas, for moving stock away from waterways while still achieving a similar or better carrying capacity for the farmer and improving water quality.
Building on the knowledge that the quality of water that enters the water storage during heavy rain or flooding is a significant influencing factor in storage water quality, research into storage process focuses on the impacts of these events and how the storage responds to them.
Seqwater undertakes comprehensive storage research aimed at providing a better understanding of the key environmental drivers that influence the ecosystems, food chain and webs (algae, zooplankton,fish) at each level within a storage as well as quantifying the interactions (nutrient flux, grazing rates) between levels.
Understanding the dynamics of toxic algal blooms is a large component of this program as well as the identifying the conditions that favor different algal species and the environmental drivers for toxin production.
Model development is integral to Seqwater’s research program. Modeling provides a structure by which new and existing knowledge can better inform decision making.
Various modeling approaches are used including:
- Conceptual diagrams to identify the key links and processes and identify knowledge gaps.
- Catchment modeling that predicts the potential flow of pollution under different environmental conditions and land management practices.
- Storage modeling to integrate our process understanding and how it impacts on water quality
These models can be used to predict the implications of either catchment storms, or specific point sources, allowing for prepared management responses.