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Ordering with Priorities - SRG

Ordering priorities allow users in Source to specify how shortfalls are prioritised between different demands in Source. Without a priority system enabled, Source will shortfall all demands proportionally within the model. The priority ordering system addresses situations encountered in water resource models such as the following:

  • Supplying a minimum flow requirement in preference to upstream extractive water users,
  • Supplying extractive water users in preference to meeting a downstream storage target,
  • Where preference is given to the delivery of irrigation water over environmental water or vice versa.

Prioritisation influences how water is taken by water users and how a storage with multiple outlets prioritises releases down the different outlet paths. 

Principal developers

Ordering priorities were implemented for the Victorian government Department of Environment, Water, Land and Planning by eWater with the assistance of Murray Darling Basin Authority and NSW Department of Primary Industries. 


Source full version 4.9

Assumptions and Dependencies

 A rules based ordering system must be active in Source. For a rules based ordering system to operate in Source, the "New rules based ordering system" option must be selected as the ordering algorithm. At least one supply or demand node must be present in the system.

The current behaviour for sharing shortfalls in Source is maintained as the default behaviour (distribute shortfalls equally). This is reflected as all nodes receiving a priority of 1 initially in the priority table.

Priorities are assigned in levels of 0 to n, with the lower n level having the highest priority

A priority array is calculated during the order phase which shows the proportion of the total order for all defined priority levels (priority ratios). The sum of the priority ratios must always equal 1.

The priority array is calculated during the order phase for each elements' minimum order travel time.

The priority array is kept for order times (0...min order time) at all elements. 

The priority array at 0 time is used in the flow phase to determine whether a supply point can extract water or not. 

It is assumed that losses and gains are shared in proportion to the priority ratios.   


  • n number of priorities specified
  • pNode Node priority applies to things which can place orders
  • dsOrder(min) ds order at a node at min flow time
  • order(min) order propagated upstream at min flow time
  • nPriority(n) output array of n priorities for the node
  • dsPriority(n) array of n priorities being passed into the node
  • sumDSPriorityG sum of dsPriority(n) where n < pNode
  • sumDSPriorityGE sum of dsPriority(n) where n <= pNode
  • sumDSPriorityL sum of dsPriority(n) where n > pNode
  • sumDSPriorityLE sum of dsPriority(n) where n >= pNode
  • sumnPriorityG sum of nPriority(n) where n < p
  • MinFlowReq minimum flow requirement
  • SupplyPointOrderOrder generated by water user and passed to supply point
  • dsMainPriority(p) Priorities arriving at a splitter from the main branch
  • dsMainOrder Order arriving at a splitter from the main branch
  • dsEffPriority(p) Priorities arriving at a splitter from the effluent branch
  • dsEffOrder Order arriving at a splitter from the effluent branch

Minimum Flow Node

The priority assigned to the minimum flow requirement can change the proportions of the priorities being passed upstream. There are essentially two scenarios that can occur

  1. The minimum flow requirement is a greater volume than the downstream order volume, the total upstream order is increased and priorities are reassigned based on the additional order required and the priorities of the downstream orders.

  2. The minimum flow requirement is less than or equal to the downstream order, so the total upstream order is not changed but the priorities are reassigned based on the priorities of the downstream orders and the priority of the minimum flow requirement. e.g. if the downstream orders have a lower priority that the minimum flow requirement, the lower priorities are replaced by the higher priority level for the order up to that of minimum flow requirement. Priorities will remain in place for anything above it.  

Supply Point
There are essentially four scenarios in how a supply point node can be configured for the rules based-ordering, shown in Table 1. Note that if a Supply Point is selected as groundwater then it is not part of the ordering network i.e. it does not generate orders 
As the Supply Point can extract water from the system it can affect both the order phase and the flow phase.

Table 1 Supply Point configuration


Allow Order

Extract Water





Standard case




Priorities have no effect on the flow phase.




Water will be extracted independently of the priorities




No effect

Flow Phase
In the flow phase the shortfall priorities will inform the supply point on the volume of water it is able to extract. It tries to ensure that orders of higher priority are maintained and equalises access at the supply point's priority level. 

Transfer of Ownership
The transfer of ownership has two options regarding ordering priorities:

  1. Maintain downstream ratio
  2. Override ratios and assign to one priority level (re-prioritise orders - see user guide).

Note: Priority ordering will override ownership if they both turned on in a system. When there is not enough water in the system, borrow and payback will work to make sure higher priority demand get water prior to lower priority demand.  


Three options at a storage node that have an impact on the prioritisation of orders

Gauged Release -  Gauged release has a higher priority than the highest priority order in the system.

Pass Orders Through – The priority of the upstream orders will be the same as that of the downstream orders. 

Re-regulating the orders (default)

If pass orders through is not selected, the default behaviour is for the storage to re-regulate the flows. As a result, orders will be passed to upstream storages under two priorities, supply priority (specified by the user), and operational priority, which is always the lowest priority. The supply priority order is the minimum of the upstream and downstream orders at the storage. The operational-priority order is the greater of the upstream order minus the downstream order, or zero.   

Maximum Order
The maximum order can truncate orders being passed upstream to a specified value. If this is the case, we try and preserve the highest priority volume of water being passed upstream. This is done by removing the lower priority orders until the total is less the maximum specified. 


The confluence maintains the ratio of priorities up both branches. 

Bulk Licensing

User specifies priority.