Lake Eyre Basin

​​​​​​​​Lake Eyre Basin is one of the world’s largest internally draining systems covering about 1.2 million square kilometres, almost one-sixth of Australia. The Lake Eyre Basin includes large parts of South Australia, the Northern Territory, Queensland and some of western New South Wales. Lake Eyre is the fifth largest terminal lake in the world.

Lake Eyre Basin—map (PDF—535 KB)

See description below. 

The Lake Eyre Basin is an area of high conservation significance that supports:

  • wetlands, for example the Ramsar listed Coongie Lakes
  • grasslands and deserts, e.g. Simpson Desert National Park
  • rare and endangered plants, for example Waddi Waddi trees (Acacia peuce)
  • rare and endangered animals, for example Kowari and the greater bilby.

Second Review of the Agreement

The Department of Agriculture is conducting a public consultation process within and outside the Lake Eyre Basin Area, on behalf of the Lake Eyre Basin jurisdictions, on the second review of the Lake Eyre Basin Intergovernmental Agreement.

The consultation process is your opportunity to assist governments in identifying on-ground issues affecting the Basin so that the Agreement can meet the management requirements of the Basin into the future. The review of the Agreement is a useful process to trigger action and improvements in the Lake Eyre Basin.

The Agreement provides for the sustainable management of the water and natural resources associated with river systems in the Lake Eyre Basin. It also provides for the development and implementation of Policies and Strategies for the region in order to avoid or eliminate adverse cross-border impacts. There are currently six policies under the Agreement:

  • River Flows Policy
  • Water Quality Policy
  • Water and Related Natural Resources Policy
  • Existing Entitlements and Water Resource Development Policy
  • Research and Monitoring Policy
  • Whole-of-Basin Approach Policy.

The review looks at the operation of the Agreement and the extent to which the objectives identified in the Agreement have been achieved and consider possible changes to improve the effectiveness of the Agreement, reflect new knowledge, emerging issues and institutional frameworks.

Consultation closed on 2 May 2018.​

Lake Eyre Basin Agreement

The Australian Government is working with the Queensland, South Australian and Northern Territory governments and the Lake Eyre Basin community to implement the Lake Eyre Basin Intergovernmental Agreement.

The Lake Eyre Basin Intergovernmental Agreement Act (2001) was signed by Ministers of the Australian, Queensland, South Australian and Northern Territory governments. The purpose of this Agreement is to provide for the development or adoption, and implementation of Policies and Strategies concerning water and related natural resources in the Lake Eyre Basin Agreement Area to avoid or eliminate so far as reasonably practicable adverse cross-border impacts.

State of the Basin Condition Assessment 2016

Under the Lake Eyre Basin Intergovernmental Agreement, the condition of all watercourses and catchments within the Lake Eyre Basin is to be reviewed every 10 years.

The 2016 State of the Basin Condition Assessment report was developed in consultation with Australian, State and Territory governments, natural resource management bodies, research institutions, the Lake Eyre Basin Community Advisory Committee, the Lake Eyre Basin Scientific Advisory Panel, communities and landholders.

The first condition assessment was the State of the Basin 2008: Rivers Assessment PDF [3.04 MB, 9 pages]. This report was a desk top analysis of limited data available from government agencies, natural resource management boards and research reports. It used the available data on the basin’s hydrology, water quality, fish and waterbirds as condition indicators and found that the rivers and catchments were in generally good condition.

The 2016 State of the Basin Condition Assessment reports on the current status of the hydrology, water quality, and fish and water birds populations of the Lake Eyre Basin and on the current and emerging threats to the Basin. Information has been sourced from monitoring activities performed under the Lake Eyre Basin Rivers Assessment program, government agencies, natural resource management agencies and research institutions. The consultation process for the report was held from 22 May 2017 to 30 June 2017. Feedback from the consultation process was considered in the finalisation of the report.

The Minister for Agriculture, the Hon David Littleproud MP, announced the release of the condition assessment report in a media ​ release on 11 April 2018.

More information

See the Lake Eyre Basin for more information on the Lake Eyre Basin and relevant state and regional processes.