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1.5 Current water accounts and water quality for the Maranoa-Balonne-Condamine subregion

Executive summary

Condamine river weir on Darling Downs in Queensland, 2005 Credit: Arthur Mostead © Commonwealth of Australia (Murray–Darling Basin Authority)

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

In the Maranoa-Balonne-Condamine subregion there are three major sources of water: the Condamine-Balonne River (including the Maranoa River), the Moonie River and the portion of the Border Rivers river basin that lies in Queensland.

Water accounts

The Condamine-Balonne river basin, which includes the Maranoa River, contains four large reservoirs – the Leslie Dam, Chinchilla Weir, Beardmore Dam and Jack Taylor Weir. They have a combined storage capacity of almost 220 gigalitres. There are also many private water stores that can hold an additional 1916 gigalitres.

The Moonie river basin cotton, pasture and cereal crops rely heavily on surface water for irrigation and while the Moonie river basin has no major water stores, there are more than 85 on-farm dams that can hold approximately 125 gigalitres.

The north-western part of the Border Rivers river basin lies in the Maranoa-Balonne-Condamine subregion. Most of the surface water is held in the Weir River, Macintyre Brook (Coolmunda Dam), Callandoon Creek and the Macintyre-Dumaresq-Barwon river system.

Groundwater in the Maranoa-Balonne-Condamine subregion is used in two main ways:

  • For stock and domestic, agriculture, industrial and urban water purposes. Some 21,000 bores draw approximately 215 gigalitres per year for these purposes.
  • For petroleum and coal seam gas purposes. These activities use approximately 1800 megalitres per year.

Water quality

Queensland Government and New South Wales Office of Water have a network of 240 (manual and automatic) water quality stations across the three main river basins in the Maranoa-Balonne-Condamine subregion: the Condamine-Balonne, the Moonie and the portion of the Border Rivers river basin.

In the upper Condamine river basin, stream nutrient levels were generally within Australia's water quality guidelines, whereas the salinity levels (represented by electrical conductivity) ranged from 100 to 800 micro Siemens per cm. This is higher than levels found in some other Queensland rivers. In the Moonie river basin, high levels of total nitrogen were detected and in the Border Rivers river basin, there is insufficient data to assess the surface water quality.

The quality of the groundwater in nine aquifers in the Maranoa-Balonne-Condamine subregion were compared with the national guidelines for drinking water, stock use and irrigation, provided by the National Health and Medical Research Council (2011), and the Australian and New Zealand Environmental and Conservation Council (2000).

The total dissolved solids in the aquifers vary from 539 milligrams per litre up to 2777 milligrams per litre. Up to 600 milligrams per litre is considered palatable for humans and up to approximately 4000 milligrams per litre can be tolerated by livestock. The pH of the groundwater in the aquifers ranges from 7.8 to 8.3 and is considered suitable for both human and stock consumption, plus irrigation. 

Last updated:
9 September 2016