A water regulator, now eye in sky to monitor water use

Technology is quickly catching up with water theft and the NSW Government is funding new research projects to monitor water anomalies, as well as water flows.

Just a week after the new NSW water regulator announced a number of prosecutions over alleged water theft, the government is giving $500,000 to monitor water use in the state.

One project involves a tracking tool to monitor floodplain flows in real time and tools to detect anomalies in water extraction.


Minister for Regional Water, Niall Blair said the four projects will help to drive better management and monitoring of water in NSW.

 “All water users, wherever they are in regional NSW, have an interest in ensuring a fair and transparent regulatory system and we are using technology to ensure that,” Mr Blair said.

“We called for the best technology ideas to support the ‘next generation’ of water monitoring systems.”

The four projects include:

● $150,000 for a University of Sydney project using satellite data to help Government improve estimates of water use on farms. The project will develop a spectral library of crop types. In this project it will estimate cumulative farm scale water usage / extraction,  identify on farm storage fill and drawdown events and provide a ‘results’ reporting mechanism

● $150,000 for the Australian National University for an online tool to help compliance officers detect water take anomalies. The tool will compare on-farm irrigation to information about the property’s water allocation and reported water use.

● $50,000 for a HydroSpatial Pty Ltd project to remotely audit water take by irrigated farms and monitor on-farm storage levels to identify potential anomalies.

● $149,652 for a University of New South Wales project to improve NSW’s existing floodplain structure mapping capabilities.

Projects under the Water Reform Action Plan are to be completed by June 30, 2019.

Originally published in The Land, 5 September 2018.