What are environmental flows?
EFlows are defined as the quantity, frequency, timing, and quality of water and sediment flows necessary to sustain freshwater and estuarine ecosystems and the human livelihoods and well-being that depend on these ecosystems (Amended from Brisbane Declaration (2007).
What prompted the development of DRIFT?
DRIFT was developed for use in the environmental flows assessments for the Lesotho Highlands Water Project. The Building Block Methodology had been approved for use in the assessments but it became clear early on that a single recommended flow would be useful in the process of negotiating the environmental flow releases, and the decision was made to rather follow a scenario approach. This proved a wise decision, as during negotiations over 30 scenarios were generated using DRIFT before a environmental flow releases could be agreed on by all of the parties. This process is outlined in BROWN, C.A. and WATSON, P. 2007. Decision Support Systems for Environmental Flows: Lessons from Southern Africa. Journal of River Basin Management. Volume 5, Issue 3. 169–178.
When & how was DRIFT developed?
DRIFT was developed almost 30 years ago and has been used and applied in approximately more than 50 projects to date in 20 countries. It was first used on the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, a major inter-basin water transfer project that supplies water to South Africa from Lesotho. It was initially developed as an Excel based decision support tool but in 2006 was moved over to a Dephi platform.
Where has DRIFT been used before?
DRIFT has been used on ~60 projects on three continents, mainly southern and central Africa and Asia. Countries in Africa where it has been used include: Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Countries in Asia include Nepal, Pakistan, and in the Mekong Basin (Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam). It has also been used in Peru.
Has the DRIFT model been published in peer-reviewed journals?
Yes, the use of DRIFT has been documented in ~20 peer reviewed papers including journals such as The International Journal of River Basin Management; African Journal of Aquatic Scientists; Hydrological Sciences Journal; Freshwater Biology; Rivers Research and Application; and Water SA.
How widely recognised is the use of DRIFT as an environmental flow assessment tool?
DRIFT is widely recognised as a robust environmental flow assessment tool by aquatic scientists and conservation organisations (e.g., World Wildlife Fund (WWF); International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)); donor organisations such as DFID; GIZ, and funders of basin planning and hydropower projects (e.g. Asian Development Bank (ADB), International Finance Corporation (IFC), World Bank (WB). DRIFT has also been used on several large transboundary water projects and is therefore familiar to water commissions such as the Okavango Water Commission (OKACOM); Kunene River Joint Permanent Technical Committee (Angola/Namibia);Indus Water Commission (Pakistan/India); Zambezi Water Commission (Zimbabwe/Zambia) and the Mekong River Committee (MRC).
How easy is it to use DRIFT for the first time?
This depends on the experience of the users – with both holistic environmental flows assessments and computer software – and the complexity of the study. An experience EF practitioner should be able to apply DRIFT in a simple assessment for the first time with minimal training and use of the information on the website. As with all software, practice is recommended embarking on more complex applications.
How easy is it for specialists to use DRIFT for the first time?
Specialists facing DRIFT for the first time usually require some explanations of the concepts of DRIFT and response curves, and some guidance in navigating the software for the purposes of populating specialist information. That said, hundreds of specialists have used DRIFT successfully with minimal on-project training.
Can DRIFT be used for estuaries?
Yes. DRIFT has been applied successfully for the Pangani Estuary (Tanzania), the St Lucia Estuary (South Africa) and the Mekong Delta (Vietnam). It is worth noting however, that the quality of an environmental flows assessment for an estuary is highly dependent on the quality of the hydrodynamic modelling, which must be done outside of DRIFT.
Can DRIFT be used for lakes and wetlands?
Yes. DRIFT has been applied successfully for the Lake Sibaya and the Pongola Floodplains (South Africa), the Okavango Delta (Botswana) and for the Tonle Sap (Cambodia). It is worth noting however, that the quality of an environmental flows assessment for a large complex wetland or lake is highly dependent on the quality of the hydrodynamic modelling, which must be done outside of DRIFT.
Can DRIFT incorporate intra-daily fluctuations in flow (eg as generated by peaking power plants?)
Yes, DRIFT can be run at a daily or an hourly-time step. The latter is required for the evaluation of peaking power operations.
Can DRIFT incorporate groundwater contributions?
DRIFT uses surface expression of water. Groundwater contributions would need to be factored in by the hydrologist or hydraulics modellers that provide the data to DRIFT.
What kind of scenarios can be modelled in DRIFT?
DRIFT can used to evaluate ecosystem response to scenarios that capture changes in the distribution and volumes of water or sediment flows or water levels, in the levels of utilisation of natural resources and/or the barrier and operational effects of water resource developments.
Can the DRIFT DSS outputs be exported into reports?
DRIFT DSS outputs are exported to MSExcel and from there can be used to in reporting.
Can DRIFT be used for all types of rivers and streams?
Yes. DRIFT has been used successfully on almost all types of streams.
Does DRIFT allow modelling of climate change impacts on flow,and if so, how?
No. Modelling of the effects on climate change on flow requires rainfall runoff modelling.
Does DRIFT require detailed long term hydrological data sets?
DRIFT requires daily or monthly time-series data for hydrology or hydraulic parameters. The recommended minimum length dataset is 10 years, but the longer the better and DRIFT can be run with a shorter time-series
Can DRIFT be used where there is only monthly hydrological data and with what limitations?
DRIFT is not optimal using monthly data.
Can DRIFT incorporate social aspects such as use of ecosystem services (eg reeds, fishing, water quality)?
Yes. DRIFT has a dedicated social module.
How are social data incorporated into DRIFT?
Social considerations are incorporated into DRIFT in a similar way as ecosystem considerations, through the use of indicators, composite indicators and response curves. The process for this is covered in the User Manual.
What computer specifications are required to run DRIFT?
Operating system: Windows 7 or 8.
Minimum RAM: 4 GB.
Recommended specification: Intel I5 2 GHz.
Disk space required: 10 MB for software, and a minimum of 600 MB for the data files.
Other software required: In order to view the maps in the SETUP section of the DSS, Google Earth must be installed on your computer.
If I have an Apple Mac can I run DRIFT?
DRIFT currently does not run on Apple computers.
Can the computer be used for other tasks when DRIFT is generating response curves?
DRIFT does not automatically generate response curves. These are created by the user, and the computer cannot be used for other things while this is being done. However, the computer can be used for other things when DRIFT is analysing flow scenarios. This will, however, slow down the analysis process.
What software can the results generated by DRIFT be transferred to produce reports?
The results are readily exported to MS Excel, and sample files are provided along with the DRIFT software.
Can hydrological data generated by other hydrological models be imported into DRIFT?
Yes. A deliberate decision was taken not to include hydrological modelling as part of DRIFT, but rather to specify what hydrological data would be needed. This allows the hydrologists to work with hydrological models already set up for the basin of interest, or ones that they feel are best suited to the work at hand.
What skills are required to operate DRIFT?
Recommended skills include a familiarity with modelling software and a working knowledge of the field of environmental flows.
How long will it take to learn DRIFT
This is entirely dependent on level of experience with both holistic environmental flows assessments and with computer models. An experience EF practitioner should be able to apply DRIFT in a simple assessment for the first time with minimal training and use of the information on the website. As with all software, practice is recommended embarking on more complex applications.
What training support is available for DRIFT?
The DRIFT website has several video tutorials that explain key aspects of DRIFT. The annual subscription includes participation for two people in two on-hour online DRIFT Q and A sessions. Please check the website for the dates of upcoming sessions. EFlows and DRIFT training courses are also offered online from time to time, please check the website for the dates of upcoming courses. Additional personalised training and support is available at a cost of $100 per hour for individuals and US$150 per hour for groups up to 4.
Are their DRIFT training courses available on-line?
Yes. DRIFT training courses for various levels are offered on-line. Please check the website for the prices and dates of upcoming courses.
OBTAINING & USING DRIFT
How much does it cost?
2018 is DRIFT’s launch year. We accept that there may be some challenges and teething problems, if you are prepared to meet us half way, then DRIFT launch special subscription costs for 2018 are:
International commercial users:
o US$ 400.00 for an annual license for installation on a single computer
o US$ 750.00 for annual licenses for installation on five different computers
SADC citizen commercial users:
o US$ 200.00 for an annual license for installation on a single computer, subject to verification of SADC citizenship
Bona fide academics: Free
Bona fide students: Free.
How long does it take to apply & obtain DRIFT?
Applicants wishing to obtain DRIFT should submit proof of payment. Thereafter a ‘login key’ and the DRIFT interface software will be sent to you via email. Academic users should complete the online application form, and submit it for approval. Once approval is obtained, a ‘login key’ and the DRIFT interface software will be sent to you via email.
What happens if I get stuck?
A user manual and various tutorials on using DRIFT are available under the Resources tab on the DRIFT website. Commercial subscription also includes two SKYPE sessions of up to 1 hour. Users can also purchase additional assistance at $100 per hour by contacting us via email and we will respond directly?