Qld map southern gulf catchment resource assessment
Research and planning
Queensland and Northern Territory
Estimated cost
$6.8 million
Project status

This project is funded by the Australian Government ($6.8 million). Australian Government funding is provided through the National Water Grid Fund.

River flanked by trees

The Gregory River is one river within the Southern Gulf Water Resource Assessment. Credit: CSIRO.

Project overview

Water resource assessments provide information to help understand the benefits and constraints of water development and infrastructure decisions. This is especially important for considering further development in northern Australia.

With funding from the NWGA Science Program, the CSIRO is conducting water resource assessments in the Southern Gulf Catchment, Northern Territory. They are working with the Northern Territory Government, research partners, and communities. This assessment is being undertaken alongside similar assessments for the Victoria River and the Roper River. These assessments build on previous assessments from the Northern Australian Water Resources Assessment (NAWRA) project. The NAWRA project was funded by the Australian Government.

Goals of the assessment

Most rivers in northern Australia are unregulated. Current surface and groundwater allocations are small. Understanding what and where these resources are will support decisions on further development. The impacts of extracting water will also be identified. They also identify the types of development and associated risks. Indigenous rights, values, and development aspirations are also included in assessments.

The assessment will:

  • fill knowledge and data gaps on soil and water resources across the north of Australia including:
    • water availability
    • land suitability
    • existing uses
    • impacts of different types of development
    • scales of extraction
  • identify and evaluate water capture and storage options
  • assess commercial viability of irrigated agriculture and aquaculture opportunities
  • provide long-term knowledge base and legacy datasets.

The research will support broader Australian Government investment and policy decisions on developing northern Australia. It will also help support state and territory government water planning. It will assist the development of updated water resource plans to support more sustainable water allocation decisions and use in the region.

Environmental and cultural considerations

The assessment includes key activities to ensure environmental, social and cultural impacts are considered. Activities include:

  • identifying First Nations Peoples’ aspirations and water values
  • understanding trade-offs between water resource development and impacts on ecosystems, including freshwater species and habitats as well as coastal marine habitats that could be affected by changes in run-off.

About the Southern Gulf

The Southern Gulf is located in the Southern Gulf of Carpentaria, across the Queensland and Northern Territory border. The Southern Gulf has 5 water catchments:

  • Settlement Creek
  • Nicholson River
  • Leichhardt River
  • Morning Inlet
  • Mornington Island (Wellesley Islands group).

The area’s current industry includes pastoralism for sheep and cattle, mining, fishing and tourism. The region has many conservation areas including:

  • national parks
  • resource reserves
  • fish habitat reserves
  • wetland reserves
  • nature refuges
  • lands and sites listed on the National Estate Register and the World Heritage Register.

Key project benefits

Local community
Natural environment

Learn more