|Security||Registered entitlements (ML)||Long Term Average Annual Yield (ML)|
* Includes Nebine Creek catchment. As at 30 April 2013 the Commonwealth holds 5,920 ML in the Nebine Creek catchment and 46,950 ML in the Lower Balonne.
Commonwealth environmental water in the Condamine-Balonne catchment
Options for Commonwealth environmental water use in 2012-13
Annual Water Use Options 2012-13: Northern Murray-Darling Basin Unregulated Rivers identifies potential Commonwealth environmental watering actions for 2012-13.
Annual Water Use Options 2012-13: Northern Basin Unregulated Rivers – Fact Sheet summarises the approach and some of the options for using Commonwealth environmental water, as well as identifies how anyone may provide suggestions for use of environmental water.
Environmental watering in the catchment in 2011-12
During 2011-12, 3 gigalitres of unregulated water was taken in the Balonne River and downstream distributaries, including to support the Ramsar listed Narran Lakes Nature Reserve and the Culgoa Floodplain National Park.
Environmental watering in the catchment in previous years
The only site to have been delivered Commonwealth environmental water in the Condamine-Balonne catchment is Nebine Creek. Since 2009, more than 4.4 gigalitres (GL) of Commonwealth environmental water has been used to complement natural flows in the Nebine catchment. This water made a small but valuable contribution to the ecological benefits of flow events in these systems.
For further information about Commonwealth environmental watering in the Condamine-Balonne and the outcomes achieved, please refer to the Commonwealth environmental water Outcomes Reports and Annual Reports.
Where is it?
The Condamine-Balonne region is mostly in southern Queensland, and is based around the Condamine and Balonne rivers. Spanning the high country in the east to the wide alluvial western plains of the lower Balonne catchment, the topography contains distinct tablelands, slopes and plains landforms. Nearly two-thirds of the region is comparatively flat. It rises in the Great Dividing Range near Warwick, is bounded to the west by the Warrego region, the south by the Border Rivers, Moonie and Barwon-Darling regions.
The Condamine-Balonne catchment covers 150,101km2 or 14.4 per cent of the MDB area. Tributaries include the Maranoa River which flows southward from the Carnarvon Range into the Beardmore Dam (capacity 82 GL) near St George. The main dam on the Condamine River is the Leslie Dam (capacity 106 GL). The Nebine Creek in the west of the region flows in a southerly direction and joins the Culgoa River in northern New South Wales upstream of Collerina. The catchment flows discharge either to the Barwon River (via the Culgoa and Bokhara rivers) or to the terminal lakes and wetlands of the Narran River.
What makes this place so special?
The catchment is an ecologically significant area because it includes:
- several wetlands listed on the Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia (DIWA)
- endangered ecological communities including Brigalow-gidgee Woodland/shrubland in the Mulga Lands and Darling Riverine Plains Bioregions
- a diverse range of flora and fauna including lignum, river red gum woodland, straw-necked ibis and native fish
- species listed as vulnerable under state legislation including silver perch, freckled duck and Australian painted snipe, and under the EPBC Act including the great egret, cattle egret and Murray cod
- habitat for wetland-dependent species
- migratory bird habitat.
Wetlands of national importance in the catchment include Great Artesian Basin Springs, Lake Broadwater, The Gums Lagoon and Dalrymble and Blackfellow Creeks.
The Lower Balonne area (a complex floodplain channel system) supports the largest number of wetlands in the MDB and also hosts a number of nationally significant wetlands including the Ramsar-listed Narran Lake Nature Reserve. The Narran Lakes system comprises a series of interconnecting terminal drainage lakes (Back, Clear and Narran lakes) and wetlands of the Narran River that flow from the Balonne River. Part of the area comprises the internationally important, Ramsar-listed Narran Lake Nature Reserve. The lakes are one of the most important waterbird breeding habitats in eastern Australia, particularly for the straw-necked ibis.
Another DIWA-listed wetland is the Culgoa River Floodplain, which supports a significant area of coolabah woodlands. It is listed for the significance of its terrestrial floodplain vegetation including the large area of remnant coolabah woodlands. The Culgoa National Park in this area has high plant diversity with a low percentage of exotic species.
What does the latest science say about the ecological health of the catchment?
The Murray-Darling Basin Commission Sustainable Rivers Audit (SRA) rated the overall health of river ecosystems in the Murray-Darling Basin. The SRA reports the overall ecosystem health of the Condamine-Balonne region as moderate.
The CSIRO Sustainable Yields Report on the Condamine-Balonne region has indicated the current level of use for the entire region is extremely high, as 53 per cent (722 GL/year) of the average available water is diverted for use (Condamine-Balonne 55 per cent and Nebine 11 per cent). The high level of use in the Condamine-Balonne has significantly reduced end-of-system flows.
Under the best estimate 2030 climate, average surface water availability in the Condamine-Balonne and Nebine systems would be reduced by 8 and 11 per cent respectively. Water resources development has increased the average period between flood events for nationally important wetlands on the Balonne River floodplain by about five months (or 24 per cent) and has reduced the annual flood volume by nearly 22 per cent.
Note that the boundaries of this catchment as defined by the Sustainable Rivers Audit and the Sustainable Yields report differ slightly to the boundaries used here.