The Department of Natural Resources and Mines (DNRM) is currently developing a new water plan to replace the Water Resource (Great Artesian Basin) Plan 2006 due to expire on 1 September 2016.
The Great Artesian Basin is one of the largest underground water reservoirs in the world underlying approximately 22 percent of Australia, occupying over 1.7 million square kilometres beneath the arid and semi-arid parts of Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and the Northern Territory.
In the early days of European settlement the water from the basin came to the surface under natural pressure and was allowed to flow uncontrolled into open drains for stock use.
By the early 1900s it was recognised that control over this precious resource was inadequate. Uncontrolled flows threatened groundwater dependant ecosystems, reduced water pressure and were endangering access by existing and new pastoralists to this much needed resource. Free flowing bores and drains were also causing environmental damage through encouragement of the spread of pest plants and feral animals as well as land and water salinization.
Recent activities under the Great Artesian Basin Sustainability Initiative have addressed these issues in part; however, there is still need for further improvement.
The plan under review provides the framework for the management of Queensland’s Great Artesian Basin groundwater including ensuring security of supply for current and future users and protection of flows to springs and watercourses. It also defines the areas and circumstances in which water may be taken or made available (including the granting of unallocated water) as well as requirements for ongoing monitoring and reporting.
DNRM is seeking feedback from Wildlife Queensland and the wider community on the issues to be considered when developing the replacement plan. Public meetings are being held in communities throughout the Basin area (contact your local DNRM office to confirm dates and starting times) and further information is available at: www.dnrm.qld.gov./water/catchments-planning/catchments/great-artesian-basin
Submissions close on 20 November 2015 and can be made by downloading, printing, and completing the form included in the statement of Proposals or online at www.getinvolved.qld.gov.au