A prioritisation tool for restoring urban waterways

Find out how to repair an urban waterway

The RESTORE Tool is a decision making tool to support the repair of urban waterways. This easy-to-use desktop solution helps waterway managers to identify which actions to prioritise. Supporting fact sheets identify potential recovery actions.

The Excel-based assessment tool guides users through questions at the site and catchment scale that describe the urban and natural setting. Answers to these questions work behind the scenes to prioritise the 9 ecological components that underpin waterway health:

  • hydrology
  • geomorphology
  • longitudinal connectivity—from upstream to downstream
  • lateral connectivity—with the floodplain and wetlands
  • vertical connectivity—with underlying groundwater systems
  • riparian zones
  • physico–chemical water quality
  • nutrient water quality
  • biota.

The question-based approach enables waterway managers to tap into existing knowledge and expertise without having to do detailed site investigations. It's most effective when applied in a facilitated workshop environment, bringing together diversity of knowledge to successfully respond to all questions.

The tool can be applied in any urban waterway health improvement project, and can be repeated across multiple sites.

The tool ranks each component against 3 criteria

The tool scores each of the 9 ecological components in relation to:

  • importance to ecosystem function at the site
  • severity of stress or departure from reference
  • potential to be repaired or protected into the future.

Each component receives a score (out of 2) for each criteria. These are then weighted to generate the overall prioritisation score (out of 3) for that component.

A high overall prioritisation score indicates the ecological component is highly altered, has a significant influence on the ecosystem function and has a good capacity for recovery.

The raw scores can be presented in both a table and mapped on a spider chart.

The prioritisation scores can also be presented graphically.

Supporting materials are available to help you

The following resources can help you understand and apply the RESTORE Tool:

And if you have any questions, you can email us at

Last updated: 1st Dec 2023