20 Sustainable management of the Lake Eyre Basin rivers 205 and wetlands listed in Attachment 5 of the Georgina–Diamantina ROP (Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines 2006a). Further, overland flow can also be harvested and stored for irrigation or town water supply, but not within listed protected watercourses (Section 108, Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines 2006a). The total take of overland flow is limited to 8800 ML (Category A) and 3200 ML (Category B), with limits for different management areas. The Georgina–Diamantina WRP (Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines 2006a) also stipulates that the Chief Executive of the water agency must consider the impacts on waterholes and wetlands and their connectivity in times of low flow. In total, 19 608 ML of water may be legally diverted each year. Currently, there is little interest in additional water for irrigation, with no take up of available reserves of unallocated water. Water access the Great Artesian Basin The Lake Eyre Basin also overlays much of the Great Artesian Basin (see Chapter 1). Its water was the essential lifeblood for the settlement and development of pastoral industries in western Queensland. In this region, water access is regulated by the WRP for the Great Artesian Basin (Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines 2006b) and its ROP (Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines 2007). The Queensland part of the Great Artesian Basin is split into 25 management areas, including 10 in the Lake Eyre Basin. Within the Cooper Creek WRP area, water can be used to irrigate up to 10 ha of land for fodder production and up to 2 ha for horticulture, allowing up to 3900 ML of water to be extracted (27 licences) each year to irrigate ~130 ha of land. There is another 9500 ML of unallocated water (General Reserve, including for irrigation) and up to 10 000 ML a year forms a State Reserve for special projects, which could also be diverted each year. Currently, only 937 ML of this unallocated water (the State Reserve) is accessed. The plan is currently under review, with a new draft plan released in January 2017 (Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines 2017). This draft plan changes the existing number of Management Areas and Units from 120 to 16 Groundwater Units and 91 Geological Formations. It will allow for all aquifers to be managed in their entirety. It will not manage the take of water from the Great Artesian Basin by the petroleum, gas and mining sectors. It also proposes to provide for 35 000 ML of additional unallocated water for new development: 80% of this water is State Reserve for major projects (gas, mining or geothermal power projects). The new plan also provides for the capping of all 189 remaining uncapped bores by 2017, although there will be discretional powers for extensions or exemptions under special circumstances. Wild Rivers declarations In 2009, the Queensland Labor Government announced that the natural values of the Lake Eyre Basin river systems would be protected by Wild Rivers declarations under the Wild Rivers Act 2005 (Table 20.1). This announcement precipitated the convening of two science forums to assess natural values, hydrology and ecological processes of Lake Eyre Basin rivers. The forums and wide-ranging stakeholder consultations across the Queensland part of the basin shaped the detailed amendments to the Wild Rivers legislation, affecting Lake Eyre
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