Sustainable Rivers Audit 2 (SRA2)
Description and method logic
The Murray-Darling Basin is a network of streams and rivers across four states. To understand large-scale changes and to effectively manage the Basin's river resources, the Sustainable Rivers Audit (SRA) was designed to measure the health of the rivers at the basin scale.
The SRA was designed to give river managers and users unbiased information and provide an integrated assessment of river health. It provides an insight into the variability of river health indicators across the basin and over time and may trigger changes to natural resource management by providing a more comprehensive picture of river health.
The SRA provides assessments of ecosystem health for each of the 23 major river valleys of the Basin. Using data gathered in 2008–2010 on fish, benthic macroinvertebrates, riverine vegetation, physical form and hydrology. A first step was also made in describing trends in condition of fish, macroinvertebrates and hydrology, based on a small number of observations through time.
The first stage of the SRA took place over 2004-2007. The second stage (SRA2) was concluded after the 2008-2010 period, and provides recommendations for future large-scale condition surveillance reports.
The SRA gathers quantitative information on environmental indicators in valleys throughout the Basin.
The indicators provide ‘windows’ on components of the river ecosystems, and are grouped as Themes. The data for each Theme are acquired systematically using agreed protocols, with quality assurance. The Themes used are:
Within each valley there are 1–4 zones, defined in most cases by altitude. Sampling locations are either located randomly across the river network within zones, or constitute a comprehensive census across each valley’s river system. Enabling unbiased statistical analyses and representative reporting.
The indicators are combined (or integrated) to form quantitative measures of condition for each Theme, and Theme Condition ratings are combined to assess Ecosystem Health for each valley and its zones.
Condition assessments for each valley are related to a benchmark called Reference Condition. This estimates the status of a component (for example, the value of a measure of the fish community) as it would be in the absence of significant human intervention in the landscape. Reference Condition is a benchmark representing the river ecosystem in good health. It is not used as a target for management.
Condition of each Theme is rated on a five-point rating scale from Good through Moderate, Poor, Very Poor to Extremely Poor, depending on how different the Theme components are from their respective benchmarks. The same scale is applied to Ecosystem Health.
Criteria groupings of the method
Assessment criteria are based on 5 themes: fish, benthic macroinvertebrates, riverine vegetation, physical form and hydrology.
High level expert knowledge, expert panels for fish, macroinvertebrates, vegetation, physical form and hydrology themes. The ability to use and make sense of historical, spatial, non-spatial, and modelling data. The ability to undertaking sampling and site assessments.
Each criteria theme requires a suite of resources. In addition to persons and equipment for physical sampling in 23 valleys, the methodology also requires LiDAR datasets and SedNet and Bayesian modelling for physical form survey, LiDAR datasets for vegetation mapping, and hydrological flow metering and modelling.
Criteria by category
Physical and chemical
River managers, community, water users, policy makers.
Sustainable Rivers Audit Report 2: A report on the ecological health of rivers in the Murray-Darling Basin, 2008-2010 (Volume 3-Avoca to the Loddon)
Sustainable Rivers Audit Report 2: A report on the ecological health of rivers in the Murray-Darling Basin, 2008-2010 (Volume 2-Macquarie to the Wimmera)
Last updated: 9 April 2019
This page should be cited as:
Department of Environment and Science, Queensland (2019) Sustainable Rivers Audit 2 (SRA2), WetlandInfo website, accessed 1 February 2023. Available at: https://wetlandinfo.des.qld.gov.au/wetlands/resources/tools/assessment-search-tool/sustainable-rivers-audit-2-sra2/