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Condamine-Balonne catchment

Environmental watering in the catchment in 2013-14

Watering action Status of Commonwealth action
Nebine Creek unregulated Yet to commence
Lower Balonne unregulated Yet to commence

A summary of Commonwealth environmental watering from previous years in the Condamine-Balonne is included below. 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.

Planning for 2014-15

Commonwealth environmental water use options 2014-15: Northern Unregulated Rivers identifies potential Commonwealth environmental watering actions for 2014-15. Decisions on using Commonwealth environmental water will be made throughout the year based on seasonal, operational and management considerations. If you wish to provide suggestions for Commonwealth environmental water use please contact us at or send us your suggestion by visiting: Your suggestions for potential water use options.

Water availability and portfolio management

For more information regarding the characteristics of entitlements and the water resource plan held in the Condamine-Balonne catchment please refer to Queensland's Department of Natural Resources and Mines

Water trading

The Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder is currently investigating options to purchase temporary water to supplement a natural flow event in the Narran River to achieve inundation of wetland vegetation at Narran Lakes.

Further information about the proposed approach can be found on the Trade public consultation page.

Information on future trade considerations is available at: Portfolio Management Update

Information on current trading actions is available at: Current Trading Actions

Information on previous trading actions is available at: Trading Outcomes

Environmental watering in the catchment in previous years

Environmental watering in the catchment in 2012-13
Watering action Amount of water delivered (ML) Status of action
Lower Balonne unregulated 64 946 Completed
Total in 2012-13 64 946  
Environmental watering in the catchment in 2011-12
Watering action Amount of water delivered (ML) Status of action
Lower Balonne 307 Completed
Lower Balonne 2 743 Completed
Lower Balonne 4 Completed
Nebine Creek 62 Completed
Total in 2011-12 3 423  
Environmental watering in the catchment in 2010-11
Watering action Amount of water delivered (ML) Status of action
Nebine Creek 4 456 Completed
Total in 2010-11 4 456  

Catchment profile

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.

Northern Catchments page


Ramsar site

DIWA site

Map of Condamine-Balonne Catchment

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 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 Condamine-Balonne 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) Moderate
SRA 2(based on data collected from 2008 to 2010) Poor

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.