The State of the Basin Condition Assessment 2016 report
Under the Lake Eyre Basin Intergovernmental Agreement Act (2001), the Ministerial Forum must cause a review of the condition of all watercourses and catchments within the Lake Eyre Basin Agreement Area.
State of the Basin Condition Assessment 2016 report provides a picture on the current status of the hydrology, water quality, and fish and water birds populations of the Lake Eyre Basin and on the current and emerging threats to the Basin. It reveals an internationally significant river basin in good condition, which is a rarity around the globe. An initial State of the Basin report was produced in 2008 and this is now the second report.
The State of the Basin Condition Assessment 2016 report was developed in consultation with Australian, State and Territory governments, research institutions, the Lake Eyre Basin Community Advisory Committee and the Lake Eyre Basin Scientific Advisory Panel. Information has been sourced from monitoring activities collected under the Lake Eyre Basin Rivers Assessment program, government agencies, natural resource management agencies and research institutions.
The consultation process for the report was held from 22 May 2017 to 30 June 2017. Feedback from the consultation process was considered in the finalisation of the report.
Lake Eyre Basin Rivers Assessment
In 2011 the Lake Eyre Basin Ministerial Forum established the
Lake Eyre Basin Rivers Assessment programme in response to limited data available for the 2008 State of the Basin report. The programme has collected data annually from more than 50 waterholes across the basin on hydrology, water quality and fish since 2011. The data from this programme will be used as part of the 2016 State of the Basin condition assessment.
State of the Basin 2008: Rivers Assessment
The State of the Basin 2008: Rivers Assessment was an assessment of the condition of the Lake Eyre Basin performed in 2008 and focused on the health of the Lake Eyre Basin Rivers system, including their catchments, floodplains, lakes, wetlands and overflow channels. The assessment covered the entire basin, some of which is outside the Agreement Area.
Key findings from the 2008 condition report are:
- The rivers and catchments of the basin are in generally good condition. In particular, the low level of hydrological modification means critical aquatic ecosystems processes remain intact.
- Intact aquatic ecosystems make the rivers unique compared with other arid river systems in Australia and around the world. The Lake Eyre Basin may thus provide critical aquatic habitat, especially for migratory waterbirds, given the great impacts seen in other river systems.
- Of the five main catchments in the basin, the Cooper Creek catchment is the most studied. However, even for Cooper Creek, our knowledge is still far behind that for many coastal catchments in Australia. Additional knowledge, especially for hydrology and the “boom and bust” cycles of the aquatic ecosystems, are priorities for research to guide future river assessments.
- Potential threats to the condition of the rivers and catchments include inappropriate water resource development, invasive pests and land use intensification – all of which could severely impact aquatic ecosystem conditions.