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Paroo catchment

Water availability

The Australian Government does not currently hold entitlements in the Paroo catchment.

The Murray-Darling Basin Commission Sustainable Rivers Audit found that the Paroo catchment is in good health. Current levels of diversion on the Paroo River are negligible and therefore are currently considered sustainable.

On this basis, it is unlikely that the Australian Government would acquire environmental water in this catchment, nor would Commonwealth environmental watering be undertaken.

Catchment profile

Where is it?

The Paroo catchment centres on the ephemeral Paroo River, which begins in south-western Queensland and flows southwards into western New South Wales. Most commonly, the Paroo River terminates on the floodplain south of Wanaaring. It only reaches the Darling River in the wettest of years. The catchment covers 60,095 km2 or approximately 5.8 per cent of the Murray-Darling Basin.

Northern Catchments page


Ramsar site

DIWA site

Paroo Catchment

What makes this place so special?

The Paroo River is considered to be the last free flowing river within the Murray-Darling Basin. The catchment supports significant ecological values such as:

  • important wetland complexes, including the Paroo River Waterholes and Paroo Distributary Channels
  • Wetlands of International Importance under the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar Convention), including Currawinya Lakes and parts of the Paroo River Wetlands
  • numerous flora and fauna species, including a diverse range of waterbirds
  • rich fish assemblages, including a genetically distinct population of golden perch (Macquaria ambigua).

What does the latest science say about the ecological health of the catchment?

The Sustainable Rivers Audit (SRA), coordinated by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, provides scientifically robust assessments of the ecological health of the Basin's river valleys. The overall ecosystem health of the Paroo catchment as reported by the SRA is summarised below.

SRA Report Overall ecosystem health of catchment
SRA 1 (based on data collected from 2004 to 2007) Good
SRA 2 (based on data collected from 2008 to 2010) Good

The CSIRO Sustainable Yields Report 2008 on the Paroo found that current surface water use in the Paroo catchment is less that 0.1 per cent of the available water. Under the best estimate (median) 2030 climate scenario, average surface water availability would be reduced by 3 per cent. The volumes and relative level of surface water use would not be affected by this reduction.

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.