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Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

21 July 2006

New research to help protect Lake Eyre Basin


New research and more comprehensive data on the climate and rainfall of the Lake Eyre Basin is now available to help protect the catchment area that extends through the desert and channel country of Queensland, Northern Territory and South Australia.

The new report, Hydrology of the Lake Eyre Basin, was launched by the Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, who is chair of the Lake Eyre Basin Ministerial Forum.

Senator Campbell said the 130-page report would help to understand the climate, rainfall, evaporation, streamflow and groundwater of the Basin.

"The Lake Eyre Basin reflects Australia's extraordinary geological, environmental and cultural heritage. It covers more than a million square kilometres, which is almost 17 percent of Australia and contains artesian springs that have been estimated to be up to 700,000 years old," Senator Campbell said.

He said the Basin was one of the world's largest closed water systems with its waters ending in Lake Eyre, 16 metres below sea level.

"During large flood events the rivers within the Basin transform from a string of waterholes into slow moving ‘inland seas' that can be up to 60km wide. These brief ‘boom' events prompt an explosion of life as highly adapted plants, waterbirds and fish, grow and flower, feed and breed," Senator Campbell said.

"Cattle grazing, tourism and natural gas production have had some impact on the landscape of the Basin but the catchments supplying water to Lake Eyre are relatively pristine.

"This report builds on what we already know about the area and gives us a stronger scientific base for the important work being done to sustainably manage the Basin's natural resources.

"It will also inform the Lake Eyre Basin Rivers Assessment project that examines the condition of the catchment including its rivers, floodplains, overflow channels, lakes and wetlands."

Senator Campbell said the report had been prepared in collaboration with the Australian, South Australian, Queensland and Northern Territory Governments, under the Lake Eyre Basin Intergovernmental Agreement.

The key findings of the report have been summarised in a 12 page brochure.

To order a copy of the report or brochure contact the Department of the Environment and Heritage's Community Information Unit on 1800 803 772.

Media contact:
Rob Broadfield 02 6277 7640 or 0409 493 902

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