The Victorian FLOWS method was developed in 2002 and has since underpinned the development of environmental flow recommendations in Victoria. It provides a consistent statewide approach for assessing the flow requirements of water dependant environmental assets associated with waterways.
The major steps in the implementation of the FLOWS method have remained largely unchanged over the last ten years. However, as with any scientific method it has been refined through use and evolved to meet the changing needs of environmental water managers.
SKM has recently completed an update of the FLOWS method for the Department of Environment and Primary Industries, which include the requirement for panels to:
- provide more explicit rationale for the link between flow recommendations and ecological response and to document areas of uncertainty in recommendations;
- set environmental flow recommendations under various climate scenarios (i.e. dry, wet and average conditions), provide advice on risks during low flow periods, and to prioritise flow components;
- assess flow scenario compliance with flow recommendations; and
- provide advice on operational issues associated with drought management and flow restoration following abatement of dry conditions.
The updated FLOWS method has two beneficial outcomes: first, the underpinning method has been improved in the light of new information; and second, an emphasis on providing more detailed rationale to support recommendations will facilitate greater consistency across different practitioners in future FLOWS studies. This talk will summarise the important features of the revised FLOWS method and demonstrate how good science is being used to advance environmental water management in Victoria.