Toolkit Home
Toolkit Banner


Phone: 1300 5 WATER (1300 5 92837)

Innovation Centre
University of Canberra
ACT 2601



The River Analysis Package (RAP) assists river and water resource managers to undertake condition assessments, environmental flow planning and river restoration design.

Target user group

  • Water resource managers, catchment management authorities, state government water resources (natural resources) departments, state government environmental protection agencies.
  • Consultants: specifically those involved in environmental flow studies, water allocation, irrigation planning studies.
  • Scientists: specifically those researching environmental flows (hydrologists and aquatic ecologists), Fluvial geomorphologists, Undergraduate teachers of Hydrology and Aquatic ecology.
  • River management community groups: Those groups involved in reviewing/interpreting environmental flow allocation strategies.
  • Expert Panels: environmental flows are usually allocated on the recommendation of expert panels made up of a combination of the above groups. RAP provides a framework to support the expert panel process.


RAP has an intuitive user interface that allows anyone to explore cross-section and streamflow data. However, sensible interpretation of results requires familiarity with the limitations of one dimensional hydraulic analysis, streamflow records and the various statistics used to characterise flow regimes.

Training is recommended for novice and more experienced users to gain an appreciation of the application of RAP. Extensive background material is in development and will be provided in RAP's HELP system. In this way RAP is not just a tool for experienced users but a potential learning tool.

Example applications

RAP currently has three linked modules and a fourth is nearing completion. Following are related examples that use each module.
Hydraulic Analysis Module:
  • Problem: "I have been told that it is important not to mobilise the bed sediment during the spawning period of Eel-tailed catfish. We need to allocate irrigation water during this period, so what is the maximum discharge we can release without mobilising the bed."
  • Solution: By using the Hydraulic Analysis (HA) module of RAP you can create a one dimensional model of the reach, and create a rating curve of discharge versus shear stress. If you also know some details about the sediment then you can determine the critical shear stress for bed mobilisation, hence determine the maximum allowable discharge based on this criteria.

Time Series Analysis Module
  • Problem: Following on from the Eel-tailed catfish problem "I am likely to exceed the critical threshold a few times during the spawning period, but I reckon it will be no more frequent than before regulation."
  • Solution: By using the Hydraulic Analysis (HA) Module you can convert a time series of "before regulation" daily flows into a time series of "before regulation" daily shear stress values. You can do the same for regulated flows.

    These time series of daily shear stress values can then be used in the Time Series Analysis (TSA) Module to compare the two shear stress time series.

    One approach would be to conduct a high flow spell analysis and determine the frequency and duration of shear stress conditions above the critical threshold during the spawning season of Eel-tailed catfish.
Time Series Manager Module:
  • Problem: for the above example of Eel-tailed catfish, the Time Series Manager (TSM) module can be used to fill gaps in the input timeseries, store the rating or habitat preference curve, and combine preference curves with the input time series to create a time series which represents habitat availability.
A further module 'Ecological Response Models' is under development for inclusion in RAP. The ecological Response Models (ERM) module will provide a framework for storing the ecological response models defined in the other modules of RAP. The ERM module is being developed in a joint project between CRC for Catchment Hydrology and CRC for Freshwater Ecology:

Ecological Reponse Models module
  • Problem: Following on from the Eel-tailed catfish problem "I have defined an ecological response model for Eel tailed catchfish, how can I store it? or share it with others?"
  • Solution: The ecological Response models module is structured on a data base for storing and sharing ecological response models.

    The ERM uses a database of hypothesised biological responses to time variant drivers (such as flow). Each hypothesis has a confidence level associated with it based on wether it has been validated with field data. By entering the before and after regulation flow data and time-series of hydraulic data (generated in HA), the ERM module will identify the species likely to be affected, the confidence in the prediction and the source of the underlying hypothesis, so that you can follow up further details with the original author.

Overview of features, advantage and benefits

RAP has three key modules:

Hydraulic Analysis

The Hydraulic Analysis module (HA) provides tools for examining hydraulic characteristics of river channels. The HA module has some neat graphical features that make it easy to explore hydraulic conditions at channel cross-sections. The HA module can calculate the standard cross-sectional attributes such as surface width, area, hydraulic radius and wetted perimeter. It’s also possible to define habitat criteria and calculate the area of habitat at a range of discharges. The HA module can read HECRAS output files or users can enter their own channel geometry data.

Time Series Analysis

The Time Series Analysis (TSA) module has been designed to calculate summary metrics of daily discharge data, however it can handle other forms of time series data such as time series hydraulic data output from the HA module. The range of statistics calculated by the TSA module has been informed by a review of the literature, focusing on hydrological statistics used in ecological studies. The TSA module can present summary statistics based on the entire period of record, annually, seasonally, or monthly depending on the specific issue being investigated. The TSA module includes spell analysis, rates of hydrograph rise and fall, the prediction of flood return interval (partial and annual series), baseflow (Lyne and Hollick), seasonality (Colwells and Haines methods). In addition to the numeric output, the TSA module has some neat visualization tools for plotting flow duration curves, flood frequency curves, and baseflow v's floodflow.

Time Series Manager

The Time Series Manager(TSM) module includes a range of functions for managing time series data. The TSM module includes a series of tools for filling gaps in time series data, for detecting gaps which have been linearly infilled, a calculator for combining time series data files in the same way that you might combine single numbers, a tool for defining rating curves and for using rating curves to transform time series, and finally a tool for changing a the time step of a time series such as aggregating a daily time step time series to amonthly or annual time step time series.

About Contact Us | Privacy Statement | Site Map | This site brought to you by