Lake Eyre Basin Rivers 204 10 years, triggering finalisation of the second iteration of the Cooper Creek WRP (Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines 2011), followed by the Cooper Creek ROP (Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines 2013). Water access river management plans Regulations in WRPs and their accompanying ROPs include consideration of downstream impacts on communities and the river systems, but the devil is in the detail. The second generation Cooper Creek plans allowed transfer of all or part of the entitlement of original water licences issued for irrigation, within or between the Longreach Waterhole Relocation Zone and the Cooper Creek Zone (Fig. 20.1). These water licences can now be permanently traded and transferred (i.e. sold), if conditions on potential impacts are met. There is currently ~62 ha of irrigation, using an estimated 1000 ML each year. Water licences may also be upgraded to specify purpose, rate of take, daily volumetric pumping limit, annual volumetric limit of take, pumping thresholds and maximum storage limits. Importantly, pumping of water into large off-river storages for irrigation is not permitted, a critical protection measure (see Chapter 22). The maximum storage capacity allowable is 30 ML. There is also opportunity to extract increased volumes of consumptive water from the river, including 700 ML (General Reserve), 200 ML (Indigenous Reserve) and 1300 ML (Strategic Reserve for projects of state significance): a total of 2200 ML of additional water extraction. Significantly, there is no additional water for expansion of irrigation in the Cooper Creek catchment. The Cooper Creek ROP (Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines 2013) allows up to 19 984 ML of water to be legally taken each year from Cooper Creek in Queensland. This includes unallocated water and 10 000 ML of existing ‘sleeper licences’ (currently not used). The Queensland Government has used a hydrological model to assess the potential impacts of water extraction on cross-border flows (see Chapter 2), using 118 years of simulated data at Nappa Merrie gauging station. If all allowable water were taken, an estimated 99.6% and 99.3% of the mean and the median annual flow respectively would still reach Nappa Merrie flow gauge on the border with South Australia. There are inevitable uncertainties in such models, which mean that not all of the environmental impacts can be measured (Ren and Kingsford 2011). There is no equivalent hydrological model for the Georgina and Diamantina catchments. Instead, the Queensland Government has estimated the impacts of water extraction by using data from isolated stream gauging stations. The Queensland Government’s 2010–11 annual report on water plans for the Georgina and Diamantina Rivers (Queensland Water Commission 2011) identified that a total of 6108 ML (includes ‘sleeper licences’) could be taken each year for irrigation, with authorised licences with another 60 ML authorised for diversion to town water supply. There were unpublished government reports that ~250 ha of irrigation uses an estimated 4000 ML each year, with more than 6000 ML of water entitlement held in ‘sleeper licences’. The Georgina–Diamantina WRP identified that 1500 ML of unallocated water could be accessed for ‘Projects of State Significance’ and 12 000 ML could be accessed for any purpose (Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines 2004). There are restrictions for new water licences from significant waterholes
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