The Australian Government is working with the NSW and Queensland governments to implement environmental works and measures identified in the Northern Basin Review, collectively known as the ‘Northern Basin Toolkit.’
Northern Basin Toolkit measures
The 6 Northern Basin Toolkit measures include:
- arrangements to protect environmental flows
- targeted recovery of water
- event-based mechanisms (such as options for pumping and store-and-release)
- improvements to the coordination and delivery of environmental water
- environmental works and measures to promote fish movement and habitat (such as building fishways)
- removal of physical constraints in the Gwydir catchment to improve flows to the wetlands.
Each of these Toolkit measures will be implemented via a range of targeted projects and activities.
Northern Basin Toolkit projects
The Australian Government is providing up to $180 million for the implementation of Northern Basin Toolkit environmental works and measures projects. In August 2023, Basin ministers agreed to extend the completion of projects to 31 December 2026.
10 Toolkit projects have been approved, either for immediate implementation or progression to the business case development phase.
These projects are designed to complement environmental outcomes in the northern Basin. They also support an additional 70 GL of water being kept in productive use in the northern Basin and provide a much-needed economic stimulus to communities in the region.
Potential Toolkit projects were assessed by an independent expert panel to determine which would have the best ecological benefits. The panel's findings are available to download below.
The approved projects
Of the 10 Toolkit projects in NSW and Queensland, 7 are approved for implementation:
- NSW Fish for the Future: Reconnecting the Northern Basin project
- NSW Scoping Initiative: Macquarie Marshes enhanced watering project
- NSW Fish for the Future: Fish-friendly Water Extraction project
- Queensland Fish-friendly Water Extraction: Condamine-Balonne and Border Rivers project
- Gwydir - Gingham Watercourse project
- Gwydir - Lower Gwydir Watercourse project
- Gwydir - Lower Mehi River project
Three projects were approved for business case development and have not progressed to implementation. These are:
- Enhance the Flexibility and Capability for Distributing and Managing Low Flows through the Lower Balonne River System Bifurcation Weirs project (Lower Balonne River System Bifurcation Weirs project)
- Queensland Reconnecting Catchments: Condamine-Balonne project (Jack Taylor and Beardmore dams)
- Queensland Improving Within-Catchment Fish Resilience – Lower Balonne project (Culgoa). Note this project was descoped and combined with the Lower Balonne River System Bifurcation Weirs project.
The business cases submitted by Queensland Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water (DRDMW) and summaries of our assessment are available to download below.
The Northern Basin Toolkit Ecological Prioritisation of Proposed Project Report and Queensland business cases were not prepared by the department and may not meet Australian Government accessibility guidelines. If you require an accessible version of these reports, please contact the author.
For more information on the approved Toolkit projects, visit Northern Basin Projects on MDBA’s website.