1.3.2.1 Description


1.3.2.1.1 Introduction to assets by subgroup, class and data source

The total number of ecological water-dependent assets in the PAE of the Cooper subregion is 1516 (from a total of 1525 ecological assets in the asset list). Of the water-dependent assets, 595 assets are vegetation features, 780 assets are surface water features and 141 assets are groundwater features (Table 7). Most of the vegetation features are groundwater-dependent ecosystems (GDEs) and most of the surface water features are lakes, waterholes and billabongs. Of the ecological assets, 1322 assets were assessed as dependent on surface water and 1013 assets were assessed as dependent on groundwater. Of these assets, 449 assets were assessed as dependent or possibly dependent on surface water alone, 140 assets were assessed as dependent or possibly dependent on groundwater alone, and 873 assets were assessed as dependent or possibly dependent on both surface water and groundwater.

Table 8 summarises the ecological assets and their water dependence according to database source. Maps of the distributions of the key data sources are shown in Figure 13 to Figure 19. Total assets cover a large proportion of the 70,589 km2 area of the Cooper PAE, giving confidence that the asset register is a thorough basis for the assessment of potential impacts of coal resource developments during later stages of the bioregional assessment (BA). In some datasets, some large assets intersect with only a small part of the Cooper PAE and extend far beyond the boundaries of the PAE. This is most strongly the case for the Water Asset Information Tool (WAIT) database, in which large areas encompassing Great Artesian Basin (GAB) groundwater aquifers, recharge beds and dependent ecosystems extend far to the west and south of the Cooper PAE within SA.

Table 7 Summary of ecological assets within the preliminary assessment extent (PAE) of the Cooper subregion, according to asset subgroup and class


Subgroup

Asset class

Number of water-dependent assets

Number of assets dependent on surface water

Number of assets dependent on groundwater

Groundwater feature (subsurface)

Aquifer, geological feature, alluvium or stratum

141

2

141

Surface water feature

Floodplain

4

4

1

Lake, reservoir, lagoon or estuary

328

328

88

Marsh, sedgeland, bog, spring or soak

4

4

2

River or stream reach, tributary, anabranch or bend

162

162

14

Waterhole, pool, rockpool or billabong

218

218

191

Wetland, wetland complex or swamp

64

64

51

Vegetation

Groundwater-dependent ecosystem

577

523

513

Habitat (potential species distribution)

18

17

12

Total

1516

1322

1013

Data: Bioregional Assessment Programme (Dataset 1)

Table 8 Summary of ecological assets in the preliminary assessment extent (PAE) of the Cooper subregion, according to asset data source


Dataset

Number of water-dependent assets

Number of assets dependent on surface water

Number of assets dependent on groundwater

Australian Hydrological Geospatial Fabric

416

416

0

Collaborative Australian Protected Areas Database (CAPAD)

3

3

2

A directory of important wetlands in Australia (DIWA)

5

5

5

Great Artesian Basin Groundwater Recharge

1

1

1

National atlas of groundwater dependent ecosystems (subsurface)

26

25

15

National atlas of groundwater dependent ecosystems (surface)

340

287

287

National Groundwater Information System

1

0

1

Birdlife Australia Important Bird Areas (IBA)

2

2

2

Queensland Lake Eyre Basin Rockholes and Waterholes in Queensland – Indigenous

79

79

79

Queensland Wetland Data Streams

11

11

11

Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance

1

1

1

SA Lake Eyre Basin Aquatic Ecosystems Mapping and Classification

10

10

0

SA Wetland Groundwater Dependent Ecosystem Classification

238

238

238

Threatened species listed under the Commonwealth’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act)

7

7

4

Threatened species listed under Queensland’s Nature Conservation Act 1992, excluding EPBC Act-listed species

5

4

3

Threatened ecological communities listed under the EPBC Act

1

1

1

WAIT Desert Channels

12

4

12

WAIT SA Arid Lands

358

228

351

Total

1516

1322

1013

Data: Bioregional Assessment Programme (Dataset 1)

Figure 13

Figure 13 Collaborative Australian Protected Areas Database (CAPAD) assets in the Cooper preliminary assessment extent (PAE)

Data: Bioregional Assessment Programme (Dataset 1)

Figure 14

Figure 14 A directory of important wetlands in Australia (DIWA) and Ramsar wetland assets in the Cooper preliminary assessment extent (PAE)

Data: Bioregional Assessment Programme (Dataset 1)

Figure 15

Figure 15 Great Artesian Basin Groundwater Recharge assets in the Cooper preliminary assessment extent (PAE)

Data: Bioregional Assessment Programme (Dataset 1)

Figure 16

Figure 16 Map of Birds Australia Important Bird Areas (IBA) assets in the Cooper preliminary assessment extent (PAE)

Data: Bioregional Assessment Programme (Dataset 1)

Figure 17

Figure 17 Threatened ecological communities listed under the Commonwealth’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 in the Cooper preliminary assessment extent (PAE)

Data: Bioregional Assessment Programme (Dataset 1)

Figure 18

Figure 18 Lake Eyre Basin Rockholes and Waterholes in Queensland (note: ‘a’) assets in the Cooper preliminary assessment extent (PAE)

Data: Bioregional Assessment Programme (Dataset 1)

aThis Queensland dataset extends into north-eastern South Australia as a result of its larger context across the whole Lake Eyre Basin.

Figure 19

Figure 19 Water Asset Information Tool (WAIT) database assets for Queensland and South Australia in the Cooper preliminary assessment extent (PAE)

Data: Bioregional Assessment Programme (Dataset 1)

1.3.2.1.2 Threatened ecological communities

Only one ecological community listed under the EPBC Act occurs in the Cooper PAE. Management plans indicate that ‘The community of native species dependent on natural discharge of groundwater from the Great Artesian Basin threatened ecological community’ depends eponymously on groundwater. Assessment data based on all satellite imagery data layers provide independent corroboration that this ecological community is water dependent. These discharge springs occur only at Lake Blanche in SA (Figure 17).

1.3.2.1.3 Habitats of threatened species

Of the 12 species listed as threatened under the EPBC Act, 7 species were assessed to rely upon water-dependent habitats, with 4 species dependent on surface water alone, and 3 species dependent on both surface water and groundwater (Table 9). Application of the precautionary principle means that any species that is ‘possibly’ dependent on water in excess of incident rainfall is determined to be water dependent and its habitat is included in the water-dependent asset register. None of the three EPBC Act-listed species that are dependent on groundwater is exclusively associated with the community of native species dependent on natural discharge of groundwater from the GAB threatened ecological community. Instead, evidence for dependence on groundwater or surface water is much less clear cut. The species occur across a wide range of community types that are more commonly ephemeral rivers, creeks, wetlands, swamps and floodplains rather than permanent waterbodies. Groundwater may contribute to the water supply in some of these community types, through contributions to subsurface baseflow in rivers and creeks, or to soil water in swamps and floodplains. In all these community types, determination of absolute dependence on water in excess of rainfall (i.e. flows down drainage lines and across floodplains) cannot be made with complete confidence, and in all cases the precautionary principle has been applied to assess these species’ habitats.

Of the nine nominated species listed as threatened under the Nature Conservation Act, excluding those also listed under the EPBC Act, five species were assessed to rely upon water-dependent habitats, with four species likely or possibly dependent on surface water, and one species possibly dependent on groundwater (Table 10). The potentially groundwater-dependent species, Acacia ammophila, is associated with ‘The community of native species dependent on natural discharge of groundwater from the Great Artesian Basin’, the sole EPBC Act-listed threatened ecological community in the Cooper subregion. Evidence for dependence on surface water or groundwater is not clear cut for the other four species in this group. As for some of the species listed under the EPBC Act, species listed under the Nature Conservation Act occur across a wide range of community types that are more commonly ephemeral than permanent waterbodies, and may involve some degree of input from groundwater sources. In such community types, determination of absolute dependence on water in excess of rainfall cannot be made with complete confidence, and again the precautionary principle has been applied to assess these species’ habitats.

Table 9 Water-dependent threatened species listed under the Commonwealth’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and in the preliminary assessment extent (PAE) of the Cooper subregion

Although examples of individual species are listed, bioregional assessments consider the potential impact to the habitat of species not individual species per se.


Scientific namea

Common name

Dependence upon surface water

Dependence upon groundwater

Comments

Acanthiza iredalei iredalei

Slender-billed Thornbill (western)

Yes

Unlikely

Commonly located in close proximity to saltlakes

Amytornis barbatus barbatus

Grey Grasswren (Bulloo)

Yes

Unlikely

Occurs in lignum and canegrass on swampy floodplains in the drainage basin of the Bulloo River

Ardea alba

Great Egret

Yes

Possible

Occurs in a wide range of wetland habitats, including freshwater and saline, permanent and ephemeral, open and vegetated

Ardea ibis

Cattle Egret

Yes

Possible

Occurs in a wide range of wetland habitats, including freshwater and saline, permanent and ephemeral, open and vegetated

Botaurus poiciloptilus

Australasian Bittern

Yes

Possible

Preferred habitat is wetlands with tall dense vegetation at the edges of pools or waterways

Macrotis lagotis

Greater Bilby

Possible

No

Associated with drainage systems, salt lake systems and other alluvial areas

Rostratula australis

Australian Painted Snipe

Yes

No

Occurs in shallow freshwater (occasionally brackish) wetlands, both ephemeral and permanent, such as lakes, swamps, claypans, inundated or waterlogged grassland, saltmarsh, dams, and bore drains

Data: Bioregional Assessment Programme (Dataset 2)

aTypology and punctuation are given as they are used in the legislation.

Table 10 Water-dependent threatened species listed under Queensland’s Nature Conservation Act 1992 (but not listed under the Commonwealth’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999) and in the preliminary assessment extent (PAE) of the Cooper subregion

Although examples of individual species are listed, bioregional assessments consider the potential impact to the habitat of species not individual species per se.


Scientific namea

Common name

Dependence upon surface water

Dependence upon groundwater

Comments

Acacia ammophila

A wattle

Unlikely

Possible

Distribution overlaps with the community of native species dependent on natural discharge of groundwater from the Great Artesian Basin EPBC Act-listed threatened ecological community

Austrobryonia argillicola

Tobermorey Melon

Yes

Not sure

Grows along ephemeral creeks and in poorly drained areas on cracking clay plains. Most abundant in seasonal swamps, clay pans and run-on areas

Epthianura crocea crocea

Yellow Chat

Yes

Unlikely

Birds feed within low vegetation in or near channels and basins, and are seen on the ground at the bases of sedges and on bare mud

Lophochroa leadbeateri

Major Mitchell's Cockatoo

Yes

Possible

Inhabits habitats within easy reach of water

Sclerolaena walkeri

A small shrub

Maybe

No

Occurs on saline river flats and floodplains

Data: Bioregional Assessment Programme (Dataset 2)

aTypology and punctuation are given as they are used in the legislation.

Last updated:
10 February 2017