A framework for improving water management in the lower Burdekin, north Queensland

Keith Bristow, P.B. Charlesworth, K. Narayan, L. Stewart, F.J. Cook, J.W. Hopmans

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperConference paper

Abstract

The lower Burdekin in tropical north Queensland is one of Australia's premier irrigation districtswith a reputation for producing some of the highest yields and highest quality sugarcane. Its success to datehas been based on favorable climatic and soil conditions and easy access to unlimited water. There is nowincreasing pressure within society to change the way water is valued, allocated, and managed, and within thelower Burdekin there are emerging questions about the long-term implications of current or changedmanagement practices. 'Internal' drivers for change include salinity associated with rising water tables,concern about surface and groundwater quality, and threats of seawater intrusion. 'External' drivers forchange include the Commonwealth of Australian Governments Water Reform Agenda and development andimplementation of a) the Queensland Water Resource Plans and local Land and Water Management Plansand b) the Great Barrier Reef Protection Plan involving setting and meeting water quality targets. Addressingthese issues and positioning the lower Burdekin for a viable and profitable future requires an integratedapproach to water management. In this paper we discuss progress in developing a 'framework' to helpintegrate various research activities aimed at improving understanding and management of water and solute(salt, nutrient, agro-chemical) in the lower Burdekin. We highlight the key biophysical processes involvedand various modeling activities being undertaken to address surface and groundwater quality and salinisationprocesses associated with irrigation and seawater intrusion. We suggest that setting and meeting local andregional water table targets (both quantity and quality) could provide the key driver needed to ensureimplementation of appropriate water and solute management strategies. Our paper also sets the scene formore detailed discussions of specific areas of work being carried out in the lower Burdekin.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIntegrative Modelling of Biophysical, Social and Economic Systems for Resource Management Solutions
EditorsD.A. Post
PublisherModelling and Simulation Society of Australia and New Zealand
Publication statusPublished - 2003
EventMODSIM 2003 International Congress on Modelling and Simulation. Integrative Modelling of Biophysical, Social and Economic Systems for Resource Management Solutions - Townsville, Queensland, Australia
Duration: 14 Jul 200317 Jul 2003

Conference

ConferenceMODSIM 2003 International Congress on Modelling and Simulation. Integrative Modelling of Biophysical, Social and Economic Systems for Resource Management Solutions
CountryAustralia
Period14/07/0317/07/03

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