1.5 Current water accounts and water quality for the Galilee subregion

Executive summary

Artesian Spring Wetland at  Doongmabulla Nature Refuge, QLD, 2013 Credit: Jeremy Drimer, University of Queensland

Information on surface water and groundwater quantity and quality for Galilee subregion is documented in this product. The information was captured in August 2015 and is used in the evaluation of the potential impact of coal seam gas and coal mining development on water and water-dependent assets.

The Galilee subregion contains the headwaters of six major river basins – the Cooper, Diamantina, Flinders, Burdekin, Fitzroy and Warrego. The surface water accounts focuses on the three river basins that are most likely to face potential coal seam gas and coal resource development – the Cooper, Flinders and Burdekin river basins. The groundwater accounts provide information on licensed groundwater allocations and an estimate of actual usage in the Galilee subregion.

Water accounts in the Galilee subregion

At the time of the assessment in August 2015 the surface water in the Cooper creek basin had not been affected by water diversions or major dams. There are approximately 50 permits to extract up to 19.8 gigalitres per year of surface water.

The Flinders river basin is also unaffected by diversion or dams. Surface water available in the basin is 2500 gigalitres per year and there are 20 permits allowing up to 57 gigalitres of surface water to be used.

The Belyando and Cape river basins comprise the parts of the Burdekin river basin that are located within the Galilee subregion. Here there are 18 water permits that allow for a total of 2.5 gigalitres per year to be extracted.

Only under specific conditions is a water licence required for a groundwater bore in Queensland. Of the 4712 groundwater bores that are currently in use across the Galilee subregion, only 2281 of these bores have water licences allocated to them. In total, some 19 gigalitres per year of groundwater are allocated across the subregion as part of a licencing arrangement. Some guidelines for the estimation of groundwater usage are outlined in this product.

Using these guidelines, it is estimated that for the Galilee subregion some 75 gigalitres per year are drawn from 4712 bores. The largest estimated withdrawals occur from Great Artesian Basin aquifers. Notably a significant number of bores have insufficient data to be able to determine which aquifer the groundwater was being drawn from. The most significant current purpose for groundwater use is stock and/or domestic purposes.

Potential groundwater use by proposed coal seam gas and coal resource developments is not included in the estimate as, at the time of publication in August 2015, the water licensing requirements had not been finalised by the Queensland Government.

Water quality in the Galilee subregion

For the Galilee subregion the surface water quality indicators are salinity (measured by electrical conductivity) and turbidity. Measurements are taken by the Queensland Government and the Lake Eyre Basin Rivers Assessment programme.

Groundwater quality data for more than 5000 bores in the Galilee subregion is available from the Queensland groundwater bore database. The most commonly measured parameters are total dissolved solids and trace element analyses.

For major aquifers, maps that show trends in groundwater salinity are included in this product. Also, water quality measurements are compared against Australian standards for human drinking water, stock water and irrigation. Groundwater salinity is highly variable throughout the subregion with most of the groundwater considered suitable for use as stock water and much of it is also appropriate for human consumption.

Last updated:
9 September 2016