Authors: Whittle, PL; Leggett, AM


Cite As:
Whittle, PL & Leggett, AM 2016, 'Establishing closure targets for discharge to temporary waters — a review', in AB Fourie & M Tibbett (eds), Mine Closure 2016: Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Mine Closure, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 495-503,

Download citation as:   ris   bibtex   endnote   text   Zotero

Temporary waters include intermittent and ephemeral streams, lakes, pools and wetlands and are found throughout the world, largely in arid and semi-arid environments. The development of resource projects near temporary waters requires the determination of potential impacts pre, during and post mining which is often difficult to quantify and monitor due to the highly variable nature of the systems. In Australia, the current water quality guidelines for the protection of aquatic ecosystems are unsuitable for application in temporary waters and it is acknowledged that there is a need to develop guidance for these waters. A review of international practice finds a similar issue where current policies for protection and assessment and management guidelines generally are found to be lacking. A rigorous scientific approach for defining and monitoring temporary waters, which takes into account high levels of variability and is transferable across environments, is required. The authors outline key factors which need to be considered when developing site specific water quality targets for temporary waters and a potential approach which can be implemented in a range of environments.

Keywords: water quality guidelines ephemeral intermittent

Acuña, V, Datry, T, Marshall, J, Barceló, D, Dahm, CN, Ginebreda, A, McGregor, G, Sabater, S, Tockner, K & Palmer, MA 2014, ‘Why Should We Care About Temporary Waterways?’, Science, vol. 343, pp. 1080–1081.
ANZECC/ARMCANZ (Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council & Agriculture and Resource Management Council of Australia and New Zealand) 2000, Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality: Volume 1, The Guidelines, ANZECC & ARMCANZ, Canberra.
ANZMEC/MCA (Australian and New Zealand Minerals and Energy Council & Minerals Council of Australia) 2000, Strategic Framework for Mine Closure, ANZMEC & MCA, National Library of Australian Catalogue Data.
Aquatic Ecosystems Task Group 2012, Aquatic Ecosystems Toolkit Module 2: Interim Australian National Aquatic Ecosystem Classification Framework Version 1.0, Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, Commonwealth of Australia.
Arthington, AH & Balcombe, SR 2011, ‘Extreme flow variability and the ‘boom and bust’ ecology of fish in arid-zone floodplain rivers: a case history with implications for environmental flows, conservation and management’, Ecohydrology, vol. 4, pp. 708–720.
Belnap, J, Welter, JR, Grimm, NB, Barger, N & Ludwig, JA 2005, ‘Linkages between Microbial and Hydrologic Processes in Arid and Semiarid Watersheds’, Ecology, vol. 86, pp. 298–307.
Brooks, S, Cottingham, P, Butcher, R and Hale, J 2014, Murray-Darling Basin aquatic ecosystem classification: Stage 2 report, Peter Cottingham & Associates report to the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office and Murray-Darling Basin Authority, Canberra.
Buttle, JM, Boon, S, Peters, DL, Spence, C, (Ilja) van Meerveld, HJ & Whitfield, PH 2012, ‘An Overview of Temporary Stream Hydrology in Canada’, Canadian Water Resources Journal, vol. 37, pp. 279–310.
Carlisle, DM, Wolock, DM & Meador, MR 2011, ‘Alteration of Streamflow Magnitudes and Potential Ecological Consequences: A Multiregional Assessment’, Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, vol. 9, pp. 264–270.
Caruso, BS 2011, ‘Science and Policy Integration Issues for Stream and Wetland Jurisdictional Determinations in a Semi-Arid Region of the Western U.S’, Wetlands Ecology and Management, vol. 19, pp. 351–371.
CCME (Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment) 2007, A Protocol for the Derivation of Water Quality Guidelines for the Protection of Aquatic Life 2007 Canadian Environmental Quality Guidelines, Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, Winnipeg.
Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the Conservation of Natural Habitats and of Wild Flora and Fauna 1992, Official Journal of the European Communities 35 (July).
Datry, T 2012, ‘Benthic and Hyporheic Invertebrate Assemblages along a Flow Intermittence Gradient: Effects of Duration of Dry Events: River Drying and Temporary River Invertebrates’, Freshwater Biology, vol. 57, no. 3, pp. 563–574.
Datry, T, Larned, ST & Tockner, K 2014, ‘Intermittent Rivers: A Challenge for Freshwater Ecology’, BioScience, vol. 64, no. 3, pp. 229–235.
Day, J, Day, E, Ross-Gillespie, V, & Ketley, A 2010, The Assessment of Temporary Wetlands during Dry Conditions: Report to the Water Research Commission, Water Resource Commission, Gezina, South Africa.
DEHP (Department of Environment and Heritage Protection) 2009, Monitoring and Sampling Manual 2009 Version 2 July 2013, DEHP, Government of Queensland, Australia.
DMP/EPA (Department of Mines and Petroleum & Environmental Protection Authority) 2011, Guidelines for Preparing Mine Closure Plans, DMP & EPA, Government of Western Australia, June 2011.
European Commission 2000, Managing Natura 2000 Sites: The Provisions of Article 6 of the “Habitats” Directive 92/43/EEC, European Commission & Office for Official Publications of the European Communities (eds), Luxembourg.
Ewart-Smith, JL, King, JM 2012, The Relationship between Periphyton, Flow and Nutrient Status in South-Western Cape Foothill Rivers and the Implications for Management: Report to the Water Research Commission, Gezina [South Africa]: Water Research Commission.
Fisher, SG, Grimm, NB, Martí, E, Holmes, RM & Jones Jr, JB 1998, ‘Material Spiralling in Stream Corridors: A Telescoping Ecosystem Model’, Ecosystems, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 19–34.
Gallaher, B 1983, ‘The Puerco River: muddy issue raised by a mine dominated ephemeral stream’, Water Quality in New Mexico, Proceedings of the 28th Annual New Mexico Water Conference, WRRI Report No. 169, pp. 60–68.
Hansen, WF 2001, ‘Identifying Stream Types and Management Implications’, Forest Ecology and Management, vol. 143, no. 1, pp. 39–46.
Larned, ST, Datry, T, Arscott, DB & Tockner, K 2010, ‘Emerging Concepts in Temporary-River Ecology’, Freshwater Biology, vol. 55, no. 4, pp. 717–738.
Leibowitz, SG, Wigington, PJ, Rains, MC & Downing, DM 2008, ‘Non-Navigable Streams and Adjacent Wetlands: Addressing Science Needs Following the Supreme Court’s Rapanos Decision’, Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, vol. 6, no. 7, pp. 364–371.
Leigh, C, Boulton, AJ, Courtwright, JL, Fritz, K, May, CL, Walker, RH & Datry, T 2015, ‘Ecological Research and Management of Intermittent Rivers: An Historical Review and Future Directions’, Freshwater Biology, July.
Levick, LR, Goodrich, DC, Hernandez, M, Fonseca, J, County, P, Semmens, DJ, Stromberg, J, Tluczek, M, Leidy, RA & Scianni, M 2008, ‘The Ecological and Hydrological Significance of Ephemeral and Intermittent Streams in the Arid and Semi-Arid American Southwest’, Policy, vol. 50.
Logan, P & Furse, M 2002, ‘Preparing for the European Water Framework Directive? Making the Links between Habitat and Aquatic Biota’, Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, vol. 12, no. 4, pp. 425–437.
Mazor, RD, Stein ED, Ode, PR & Schiff, K 2014, ‘Integrating Intermittent Streams into Watershed Assessments: Applicability of an Index of Biotic Integrity’, Freshwater Science, vol. 33, no. 2, pp. 459–474.
Morais, M, Pinto, P, Guilherme, P, Rosado, J & Antunes, I 2004, ‘Assessment of temporary streams: the robustness of metric and multimetric indices under different hydrological conditions’, Hydrobiologia, vol. 516, pp. 229–249.
Munné, A & Prat, M 2004, ‘Defining River Types in a Mediterranean Area: A Methodology for the Implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive’, Environmental Management, vol. 34, no. 5, pp. 711–729.
Nielsen, DL, Brock, MA, Rees, GN & Baldwin, DS 2003, ‘Effects of increasing salinity on freshwater ecosystems in Australia’, Australian Journal of Botany 51, pp. 655–665.
Ollis, D, Snaddon, K, Job, N & Mbona, N 2013, Classification System for Wetlands and Other Aquatic Ecosystems in South Africa: User Manual: Inland Systems.
Outback Ecology 2009, Development of Framework for Assessing the Cumulative Impacts of Dewatering Discharge to Salt Lakes in the Goldfields of Western Australia, Report for the Department of Water, Government of Western Australia, June 2009.
Prat, N, Gallart, F, Von Schiller, D, Polesello, S, García-Roger, EM, Latron, J, Rieradevall, M, Llorens, P, Barbera, GG, Britto, D, De Girolamo, AM, Dieter, D, Lo Porto, A, Buffagni, A, Erba, S, Nikolaidis, NP, Querner, EP, Tournoud, MG, Tzoraki, O, Skoulikidis, N, Gomez, R, Sanchez-Montoya, MM, Tockner, K & Froebrich, J 2014, ‘The Mirage Toolbox: An Integrated Assessment Tool For Temporary Streams: Mirage Toolbox’, River Research and Applications, vol. 30, no. 10, pp. 1318–1334.
Reich, P, McMaster, D, Bond, N, Metzeling, L & Lake, SP 2009, ‘Examining the Ecological Consequences of Restoring Flow Intermittency to Artificially Perennial Lowland Streams: Patterns and Predictions from the Broken-Boosey Creek System in Northern Victoria, Australia’, River Research and Applications.
RSA (Republic of South Africa) 1998, National Water Act 1998, Act no. 36, RSA.
Seaman, MT, Watson, M, Avenant, MF, Joubert, AR, King, JM, Barker, CH, Esterhuyse, S, Graham, D, Kemp, ME, le Roux, PA, Prucha, B, Redelinghuys, N, Rossouw, L, Rowntree, K, Sokolic, F, Van Rensburg, L, van der Waal, B, van Tol, J & Vos, AT 2013, The Mokolo River Case Study, Water Resource Commision, South Africa.
Sheldon, F, Bunn, SE, Hughes, JM, Arthington, AH, Balcombe, SR & Fellows, CS 2010, ‘Ecological Roles and Threats to Aquatic Refugia in Arid Landscapes: Dryland River Waterholes’, Marine and Freshwater Research, vol. 61, no. 8, pp. 885–895.
Smith, R, Jeffree, R, John, J & Clayton, P 2004, Review of Methods for Water Quality Assessment of Temporary Stream and Lake Systems, Australian Centre for Mining Environmental Research.
Squillace, M 2006, ‘From Navigable Waters to Constitutional Waters: The Future of Federal Wetlands Regulation’, University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform, vol. 40, p. 799.
Steward, AL, von Schiller, D, Tockner, K, Marshall, JC & Bunn, SE 2012, ‘When the River Runs Dry: Human and Ecological Values of Dry Riverbeds’, Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, vol. 10 (4), pp. 202–209.
von Schiller, D, Acuña, V, Graeber, D, Martí, E, Ribot, M, Sabater, S, Timoner, X & Tockner, K 2011, ‘Contraction, fragmentation and expansion dynamics determine nutrient availability in a Mediterranean forest stream’, Aquatic Sciences, vol. 73, pp. 485–497.
Whittle, P & Smith, REW 2013, ‘Development and application of water quality criteria for reliable management of off-site risk’, International Mine Water Association Annual Conference 2013, Colorado, USA.
Zacharias, I, Dimitriou, E, Dekker, A & Dorsman, E 2007, ‘Overview of Temporary Ponds in the Mediterranean Region: Threats, Management and Conservation Issues’, Journal of Environmental Biology, vol. 28, no. 1, pp. 1–9.

© Copyright 2023, Australian Centre for Geomechanics (ACG), The University of Western Australia. All rights reserved.
View copyright/legal information
Please direct any queries or error reports to