1.5.1.1 Surface water


The modelling boundary (as defined in companion products 2.6.1 and 2.6.2 for the Clarence-Moreton bioregion) is smaller than the preliminary assessment extent (PAE) since the coal resource development pathway is confined to an area within the Richmond river basin. The surface water modelling area is therefore restricted to within the Richmond river basin, for which the water accounts are being reported.

The Richmond River, located in far-north NSW, drains an area of 7020 km2 from its headwaters in the Border Ranges and the Richmond Range. Further details on the Richmond river basin, including its location in the Clarence‑Moreton bioregion, are given in companion product 1.1 for the Clarence‑Moreton bioregion (Rassam et al., 2014). Current coal and CSG development and exploration, which may impact water resources are primarily located in the western part of the subregion (west of Casino). Figure 3 shows a detailed stream network, storages, irrigated land and historical coal mines in the Richmond river basin. There is a single mapped mineral deposit just outside the Richmond river basin, which is the Tabulam iron ore deposit (Figure 3). The major tributaries to the Richmond River upstream of Casino include Iron Pot and Eden creeks (Figure 3). The major tributaries to the Richmond River downstream of Casino include Wilsons River and Coopers, Terania, Leycester, Sandy and Bungawalbin creeks and Shannon Brook. There are numerous other minor tributaries.

Water storages in the basin include Toonumbar Dam (capacity 11 GL excluding flood storage), which stores water for hydro-power, irrigation, stock and town water; and Rocky Lake (capacity 14 GL excluding flood storage), which provides water for the towns of Lismore and Ballina. There are four weir structures on the Richmond River near Casino and one on the Wilsons River that provides water to Mullumbimby in the Brunswick river basin. Irrigated pastures are found around the alluvial flats of the Richmond and Wilson rivers and groundwater is used to irrigate fruit and nut crops on the Alstonville Plateau. With only two main water storages and a few weirs, most of the flows in the Richmond river basin are largely unregulated.

The remainder of this product describes:

  • water volumes held in surface water storages
  • surface water permits and allocations
  • data gaps.

Figure 3

Figure 3 Tributaries of the Richmond River, town centres, irrigation areas and historical coal mines

Data: Streamflow gauge locations obtained from NSW Office of Water (2015). Coal mine and resource data sourced from the OZMIN database (Geoscience Australia, 2013), information current as of December 2012

1.5.1.1.1 Water accounts in the Richmond river basin

With only two main water storages (Toonumbar Dam and Rocky Lake) and a few weirs, flows in the Richmond River are largely unregulated. Storage volumes are summarised in Table 3 and Table 4. The mean daily volume (2004–05 to 2011–12) was 10.59 GL (range 7.29 to 14.05 GL) in Toonumbar Dam. The mean daily volume (2008–09 to 2011–12) was 13.85 GL (range 9.11 to 15.52 GL) in Rocky Lake. The combined mean daily storage was 24.44 GL.

Inflows to the Toonumbar Dam are ungauged but flows are measured below the dam at Iron Pot Creek at Toonumbar (203023). Losses from the Toonumbar Dam storage occur through continual controlled stream releases to supply downstream irrigation and flood releases when storage capacity is exceeded. Mean flows at Iron Pot Creek at Toonumbar were 36.9 GL/year (range 4.1–83.5 GL/year). Other sources of outflow such as evapotranspiration from the reservoir surface also account for losses from the storage.

Table 3 Storage volumes at the start (July) of the water year, inflows and outflows for Toonumbar Dam (11 GL capacity excluding flood storage) in the Richmond river basin


Volume (GL)

(July 1)

Minimum volume

(GL)

Maximum volume

(GL)

Outflow (GL/y)

2004–05

11.01

7.81

11.01

5.1

2005–06

9.15

7.29

11.70

16.8

2006–07

11.01

9.28

11.12

4.1

2007–08

9.30

8.45

14.05

65.0

2008–09

11.13

10.95

12.52

42.6

2009–10

11.23

10.22

11.85

19.6

2010–11

11.13

10.87

12.73

83.5

2011–12

11.22

11.00

12.18

58.2

Data: Outflow volumes for Toonumbar Dam were obtained from NSW Office of Water (2015). Volumes were obtained from the Bureau of Meteorology (Dataset 1)

Table 4 Storage volumes at the start (July) of the water year for Rocky Lake (14 GL capacity excluding flood storage) in the Richmond river basin


Volume (GL)

(July 1)

Minimum volume

(GL)

Maximum volume (GL)

2004–05

NA

NA

NA

2005–06

NA

NA

NA

2006–07

NA

NA

NA

2007–08

NA

NA

NA

2008–09

14.01

9.11

15.52

2009–10

14.08

11.39

14.56

2010–11

14.01

13.20

15.22

2011–12

14.11

13.61

15.21

NA = data not available

Data: Volumes were obtained from the Bureau of Meteorology (Dataset 1)

Surface water licences and entitlements

In the Richmond river basin, licences amount to 99,881 ML/year. Table 5 summarises surface water licences by purpose and Table 6 by type and water source (definitions of some terms are given in Table 8 of Section 1.5.1.2). Figure 4 shows the geographic distribution and extraction volumes for each licence.

Table 5 Licences grouped by purpose in the Richmond river basin


Purpose

Number of licences

Volume (ML/y)

Town Water Supply

8

6,397

Town Water Supply, Stock

4

2,620

Town Water Supply, Stock, Industrial, Domestic

6

12,358

Town Water Supply, Industrial

4

544

Town Water Supply, Domestic

2

120

Recreation - Low Security

4

100

Stock

5

15

Stock, Industrial, Irrigation

3

573

Stock, Irrigation

14

729

Stock, Irrigation, Domestic

62

745

Stock, Domestic

31

123

Stock, Domestic, Irrigation

10

101

Stock, Domestic, Farming, Irrigation

6

190

Stock, Farming

2

8

Commercial

2

4

Industrial

6

226

Industrial, Stock, Domestic

2

10

Industrial, Irrigation

14

2,547

Industrial - Sand & Gravel

1

37

Irrigation

1199

56,974

Irrigation, Recreation - Low Security

1

41

Irrigation, Stock

2

18

Irrigation, Stock, Domestic

6

141

Irrigation, Industrial

2

795

Irrigation, Industrial (Low Security)

2

66

Irrigation, Domestic

58

653

Irrigation, Farming

129

9,384

Domestic

82

198

Domestic, Stock

4

16

Domestic, Stock, Irrigation

6

45

Domestic, Irrigation

18

158

Domestic, Irrigation, Stock

5

152

Farming

32

152

Farming, Stock, Domestic

2

9

Farming, Irrigation

39

2,723

Farming, Irrigation, Industrial

6

204

Farming, Domestic

10

17

Aquaculture

2

30

Aquaculture, Irrigation

2

168

Conservation of Water, Irrigation

7

345

Experimenal/Research

1

145

TOTAL

1801

99,881

Data: NSW Office of Water (Dataset 2)

Table 6 Licences grouped by river or creek in the Richmond river basin


Asset type

Water source

Number of licences

Volume (ML/y)

Basic Right

Alstonville Area

26

77

Basic Right

Bangalow Area

26

40

Basic Right

Coopers Creek

12

18

Basic Right

Coraki Area

4

9

Basic Right

Eden Creek

1

4

Basic Right

Evans River

1

1

Basic Right

Gradys Creek

3

6

Basic Right

Kyogle Area

5

50

Basic Right

Leycester Creek

5

67

Basic Right

Myall Creek

1

1

Basic Right

Richmond Regulated

4

6

Basic Right

Shannon Brook

4

15

Basic Right

Terania Creek

9

17

Basic Right

Tuckean Area

16

28

Basic Right

Upper Richmond River

4

9

Basic Right

Wyrallah Area

1

4

Water Access Right

Alstonville Area

182

7,474

Water Access Right

Bangalow Area

257

5,927

Water Access Right

Broadwater Area

3

360

Water Access Right

Coopers Creek

169

5,708

Water Access Right

Coraki Area

203

17,917

Water Access Right

Doubtful Creek

12

185

Water Access Right

Eden Creek

18

524

Water Access Right

Gradys Creek

50

2,340

Water Access Right

Kyogle Area

163

10,265

Water Access Right

Lennox Area

2

42

Water Access Right

Leycester Creek

56

964

Water Access Right

Myall Creek

9

1,419

Water Access Right

Richmond Regulated

80

10,258

Water Access Right

Sandy Creek

6

342

Water Access Right

Shannon Brook

23

436

Water Access Right

Terania Creek

122

14,808

Water Access Right

Tuckean Area

164

4,961

Water Access Right

Upper Richmond River

55

2,232

Water Access Right

Wyrallah Area

105

13,367

TOTAL

1801

99,881

Water access right refers to the right conferred by law to hold or take water from a water resource.

Data: NSW Office of Water(Dataset 2)

Figure 4

Figure 4 Location of surface water licences in the Richmond river basin (the colour scale indicates the amount of allocated water)

Data: NSW Office of Water (Dataset 2)

1.5.1.1.2 Gaps

There are several unknown water sources and volumes including:

  • ungauged tributary inflow
  • ungauged runoff
  • surface water – groundwater interactions.

Some of the sources not included here are implicitly considered, for example, reservoir rainfall and evaporation would be reflected in changes in the storage volume.

References

Geoscience Australia (2013) OZMIN Mineral Deposits Database, Canberra.

NSW Office of Water (2015) Continuous monitoring network. New South Wales Office of Water. Viewed 17 March 2015, http://realtimedata.water.nsw.gov.au/water.stm.

Rassam D, Raiber M, McJannet D, Janardhanan S, Murray J, Gilfedder M, Cui T, Matveev V, Doody T, Hodgen M and Ahmad ME (2014) Context statement for the Clarence‑Moreton bioregion. Product 1.1 from the Clarence‑Moreton Bioregional Assessment. Department of the Environment, Bureau of Meteorology, CSIRO and Geoscience Australia, Australia. Viewed 29 April 2015, http://data.bioregionalassessments.gov.au/product/CLM/CLM/1.1.

Datasets

Dataset 1 Bureau of Meteorology (2015) Water levels Selected Dam Storages Time Series NSW BOM CLM 20150327. Bioregional Assessment Source Dataset. Viewed 10 April 2015, https://data.bioregionalassessments.gov.au/datastore/dataset/327a70dd-6498-4c8f-9308-bc4a366b66ad.

Dataset 2 NSW Office of Water (2013) Surface Water Offtakes processed for Clarence Moreton v3 12032014. Bioregional Assessment Source Dataset. Viewed 10 April 2015, https://data.bioregionalassessments.gov.au/datastore/dataset/715a405b-dc50-46ca-9704-1f698e5b66fc.

Last updated:
9 September 2016