October 2011

River Styling

26.10.2011 - Posted by Clare Ferguson
I’ve enjoyed the reaction when I tell people what I did for work a fortnight ago: driving around north-east NSW looking at rivers for a week. But of course, while the week was as enjoyable as I make it sound, it wasn’t as simple or as cruisy. We had put together a list of 5128 sites over an area of 50,000 km2 and our mission was to conduct River Style® and condition assessments at as many of these sites as possible, in four and a half days. We decided to divide and conquer: the A Team (Mark and I) tackled the sites in the southern catchments, while the B Team (Misko and Darcy) took on the northern catchments.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of the week was being able to visit such a vast range of stream types and conditions, especially since the nature of our work at Alluvium means our site visits are often to streams in need of some repair. Between the two teams, we went to countless sites that impressed us in many different ways. Here are some of our highlights.

A forested intact valley fill inland near Port Macquarie was Mark and my favourite.

And this headwater stream in the Fortis Creek National Park was a favourite of Darcy and Misko for it's excellent condition and aesthetics.

Some streams we visited may not have been in ideal condition, but they appealed to our inner geomorphology nerd:

This sand slug in the Clarence River (Darcy and Misko)

And this significant gravel deposits along the MacLeay River (Mark and I)

And of course, there was the wildlife. Some we like to see in a river and some we don’t like to see:

There are two reptiles in this photo - can you spot them? (hint: look to the bottom left and top right)

Wildlife we don't want to see in rivers.

On the whole, it was quite a nice way to spend a week working!

River Symposium 2011

7.10.2011 - Posted by Matt Francey
A few of us attended River Symposium in Brisbane last week. As in past years the presentations were a bit of a mix of science, strategic approaches and case studies. One thing that is always interesting is the international flavour. This year there were excellent presentations about the Dutch program 'Room for the River' which involves large scale buybacks, engineering works and other mechanisms of managing flood risk. Another presentation by Dr. Guangchun Lei about the Yangtze River in China was staggering in its scope. The huge human impacts, geographic scale and costs of infrastructure all put into perspective some of the issues we face here in Australia. They even had data sets stretching back to the 1300s to provide context.

On an Australian note the NWC ran a session on the 'Framework for Assessment of River and Wetland Health'. The session presented results of various trials from across the country, and launched the synthesis and further recommendations for the framework. Despite wide acceptance and enthusiasm at a practitioner level there is still no definite (funded) future for a comprehensive national approach to monitoring wetland and river health. Hopefully the success of the program to date provides enough momentum for implementation in the near future.

What is your data style?

3.10.2011 - Posted by Rob Catchlove
Last Friday Greg More (Oom Creative) came to our office and presented his latest work in data visualisation. Data visualisation is the process of analysing and visualising data in new ways, essentially presenting something we used to do through bar charts and exploring it and rethinking what it says.

Greg has worked with Melbourne Water, ARUP, DPI, Enterprise Architects and is now doing a data design residency with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.  Have a look at the Melbourne Water website for an animation of Melbourne's water storages, rivers and sewage network.

Oom Creative at the State of Design 2010:  Creating Liveable Cities exhibition

It is a pretty interesting area. We work with massive amounts of data for almost every project, and it makes me think about how we present that and how to visualise the data to not only communicate results in reports but to look for meanings and insights as you go.

The most interesting thing Greg said in my opinion was ‘companies will have data styles just as they have brand styles’. With the general movement towards more data transparency and access, that opens up something entirely new. What will our data style be and how could that improve water resource management?