Water Interception

Water Availability and Forest Landuse Planning Tool

Whilst it is known that certain land use change activities such as large-scale plantation forestry have the potential to intercept significant volumes of surface and/or ground water, to date there has been little quantitative information on the scale of this potential impact.

The Government has given a specific commitment to addressing the issue of water interception by forestry plantations through the signing of the National Water Initiative.

The Initiative recognises that certain land use change activities such as large-scale plantation forestry conversion have the potential to intercept significant volumes of surface and/or groundwater. This in turn may impact on the amount of water available in streams for other water users and the environment, and such impacts need to be taken into account in water management planning.

The National Water Initiative also recognises that the first step is to obtain robust information on existing and potential impacts, and assess the level of risk posed to the integrity of water access entitlements and the achievement of environmental objectives.

The Department of Primary Industries and Water, in partnership with the Forest Practices Authority, has developed the Water Availability and Forest Landuse Planning Tool that will provide the capability to assess, in the first instance, the potential impact of water interception by plantation forests.

The Water Availability and Forest Landuse Planning Tool integrates plantation forest interception scenarios, utilising TasLUCaS functions, with water allocation scenarios (irrigation water use) and aquatic ecosystem condition. The tool incorporates surface water hydrological models, and the Conservation of Freshwater Ecosystem Values database to allow evaluation of the impacts of changes in water availability at the subcatchment scale on current water allocation and high conservation value environmental assets.

Reports

A report on the development of the Water Availability and Forest Landuse Planning Tool has been prepared. The report describes the components of the tool, and provides results from its initial application in the Ringarooma catchment.

Also available are the technical report on the development of the tool, as well as the reports of two independent reviewers (ARM Consulting; and Freshwater Systems).

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