Framework for interoperable freshwater models


This project involves the development of a computer-based framework for freshwater models. The framework will be tested to proof-of-concept stage.

The problem

Water resources modelling is a key tool for environmental planning and management in New Zealand, particularly in relation to the effects of land use and land management on water resources.

As a result, there has been an increase in the last decade in the number of models available for the prediction of water quality and quantity. However, there remains confusion about how these various freshwater models fit together.

Other concerns

Other concerns include:

  • the expense associated with getting data into models
  • the large investment required to modify existing models or to build new ones being tied to certain model providers
  • uncertainty around how to use model results for decision-makinglack of co-ordination among modelling efforts.

Such concerns are hampering the uptake and application of environmental modelling tools in New Zealand.


To address this issue we are designing and testing a computer framework which can link various freshwater models: key project partners are AgResearch and Landcare Research.

We will develop a prototype of the framework to demonstrate that the ideas work in practice, although full implementation will most likely occur after this three-year project. We propose to make as much use of open-source software components and existing frameworks as we can, to avoid re-inventing the wheel and to make the framework accessible.

Key stages in the project are outlined in the diagram to the right. 


The framework will allow a number of existing mathematical models for freshwater quality and quantity to work together by sharing data, communicating with each other, and making use of visualisation or mapping tools. This will enable more coordinated and efficient predictions of land use, land management, and climate change effects on water resources to be made. 

Further information

A publicly-viewable project wiki has been set up to provide more information on the project and its results, and to serve as a collaborative work space. 

Visit the wiki

NIWA Contacts

Principal Scientist - Catchment Processes
Page last updated: 
11 June 2014
Hutt River. [Dave Allen]
The framework (click to enlarge).
Key stages in the project (click to enlarge).