Developing HowLeaky platform for improved governance, facilitation of development, and open reproducible science: final report

Ghahramani, Afshin ORCID: and Anderson, Roy and Doherty, Al (2019) Developing HowLeaky platform for improved governance, facilitation of development, and open reproducible science: final report. Technical Report. University of Southern Queensland, Centre for Sustainable Agricultural Systems , Toowoomba, Australia. [Report]


HowLeaky is an important asset for the Queensland Government, universities, research institutes and is useful for estimating water balance and water quality for a range of land uses and management options. It is applied to benchmarking water quality changes associated with the Great Barrier Reef catchment investments.

This project has developed a new web-based platform for the HowLeaky model to facilitate improved management, development and governance of the model. This was delivered through a collaborative research agreement between the University of Southern Queensland and the Queensland Government, Department of Science and Environment.

With these enhancements and improved accessibility and management, HowLeaky becomes a community governed model, with software, source code, and experimental datasets required for development being accessible and freely available through the HowLeaky website ( Tasks completed during this project included:

1. Model code translated from C++ to C# and a new command line version of HowLeaky developed;
2. A hosting framework developed with model source code placed on GitHub while the web-based platform and databases are on three servers hosted by Nectar (The National eResearch Collaboration Tools and Resources project) infrastructure;
3. Code and model parameter change submission process was automated;
4. A web-based interface developed to facilitate code modifications and automate model validation using key datasets and parameters of calibrated models;
5. Available datasets and parameters archived on the website and available to users;
6. Workflow developed to facilitate access and archival of data and parameters within the hosting framework;
7. Terms of reference and peer review procedures developed, documented and agreed;
8. An oversight committee convened for peer review;
9. The model can be run via the website, building on previous examples and having access to external databases of climate (P51 from SILO) and soil descriptions (Soil and Landscape Grid of Australia) using Application Programming Interfaces (APIs); and
10. The model has a Swagger UI for HowLeaky REST API which can be accessed by third parties for review, using related API the simulations can be run on the cloud.

Given the nature of developing new software, this development should be regarded as a first phase of an ongoing development process, while completing all deliverables of the project. The software has not yet been tested with a user group to determine the user reaction or system robustness (was not part of the project). It is expected that future iterations of software development will be required following feedback received from both modellers and developers. Additional time, effort and resources may be required to ensure model uptake of this version of HowLeaky within the Queensland Water Modelling Network.

A peer review and support framework including a HowLeaky Steering Committee and Panel were developed to oversee model peer review activities and governance. The Panel includes members from the Queensland Government, the University of Southern Queensland and the private sector. The activities of the Panel are overseen by a Steering Committee which consists of the delegate(s) from the Queensland Government and the University of Southern Queensland. The Steering Committee ensures on-going support for the development and use of HowLeaky.

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Item Type: Report (Technical Report)
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Copyright and disclaimer: Printed in October 2019 by the USQ Centre for Sustainable Agricultural Systems, Toowoomba. Material from this publication is subject to copyright and may not be used, in whole or part, unless formal acknowledgement to the research institution is made. This report is the work of the author and does not represent the views or policies of the Queensland Government.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Institute for Life Sciences and the Environment - Centre for Sustainable Agricultural Systems (1 Aug 2018 -)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Institute for Life Sciences and the Environment - Centre for Sustainable Agricultural Systems (1 Aug 2018 -)
Date Deposited: 06 Jan 2020 04:33
Last Modified: 30 Sep 2020 07:17
Uncontrolled Keywords: HowLeaky; water balance; water quality; web-based platform; computer simulation
Fields of Research (2008): 04 Earth Sciences > 0406 Physical Geography and Environmental Geoscience > 040608 Surfacewater Hydrology
07 Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences > 0701 Agriculture, Land and Farm Management > 070105 Agricultural Systems Analysis and Modelling
05 Environmental Sciences > 0503 Soil Sciences > 050305 Soil Physics
Fields of Research (2020): 37 EARTH SCIENCES > 3707 Hydrology > 370704 Surface water hydrology
30 AGRICULTURAL, VETERINARY AND FOOD SCIENCES > 3002 Agriculture, land and farm management > 300207 Agricultural systems analysis and modelling
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4106 Soil sciences > 410605 Soil physics
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): D Environment > 96 Environment > 9614 Soils > 961499 Soils not elsewhere classified
Funding Details:

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