Environmental Flows: Environmental Watering
Environmental watering is a term that has gained traction, primarily in Australia, to describe the delivery of environmental flows to rivers and wetlands. The term was defined in Australia’s federal Water Act (2007) as “the delivery or use of environmental water to achieve environmental outcomes.” Environmental water in this context refers to water available under an access or delivery right that may be released from storage as well as the protection of flows in unregulated systems by implementing rules that limit the degree of water extraction to preserve particular parts of the hydrograph. Environmental outcomes include the conservation and restoration of biodiversity and ecosystem functions, including the protection of water quality. More recently the term “environmental watering” has also come to be associated with the use of floodplain infrastructure, such as levees, weirs, regulators, and pumps, put in place to deliver water to floodplain wetlands in cases where there is otherwise insufficient water to restore run-of-river flood events via reservoir releases. This form of engineered environmental watering may be critical during droughts, but does not emulate many of the processes associated with natural flood events.
KeywordsEnvironmental flows Environmental water Environmental watering Engineered flooding Floodplain wetlands
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