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Waterhole refuge mapping and persistence analysis in the Lower Balonne and Barwon–Darling rivers

The project provides a better understanding of the location and persistence of waterholes in the Lower Balonne River Floodplain and Barwon–Darling as part of the Northern Basin review. The project was undertaken by the Qld Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation in collaboration with NSW Department of Primary Industries and Water.

A combination of techniques were used including remote sensing to detect water in the river during periods of no flow between 1988 and 2015 and field work to measure the shape and water loss of individual waterholes. Models were then developed to predict how long waterholes last when the river is not flowing.

The knowledge generated through the project has given increased confidence about the environmental water needs to ensure a range of waterholes persist during drought. We now know waterholes are critical refuges for many fish, birds and plants during droughts.