Campaspe River

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Subcatchments

Smaller subcatchments within the Campaspe River Catchment include:

  • Campaspe River
  • Broadly Creek

Vegetation

Riparian Habitat

iTRARC analysis of Riparian Habitat indicates that this subcatchment has gone from very good to relatively good condition. The extensive field survey results show a wide range of conditions on-ground, with weediness a pervasive problem and a lack of regeneration at some sites.

iTRARC Scores

Catchment Class 2 A
Maximum iTRARC Score 24 (A+)
1970s Score 20 (A+)
2004 Score 11 (B)
Reduction in Ecosystem Services Moderate
Increase in Potential for Erosion Large
Reasons for Change in Score
  • Increased gaps on headwater streams and on anabranching floodplains
  • Increased floodplain bare soil
  • Increased gullying/scalding
  • Increased low cover hill slopes

TRARC (field survey) scores

Survey SiteScoreRegenerationWeeds
Homestead Ck, Fishhole48.6 (D)1 (C)1 sp: 5% cover (B)
Oaky [#3]49.5 (C)2 (B)1 sp: 5% cover (B)
Wambiana Lagoon54.6 (C)0 (D)1 sp: 5% cover (B)
Muckinbulla Waterhole56.7 (C)1 (C)1 sp: 1% cover (B)
Broadly Ck64.7 (B)2 (B)1 sp: 1% cover (B)
Campaspe R [#1]56.4 (C)0 (D)0 (A)
Campaspe R [#2]56.8 (C)2 (B)1 sp: 1% cover (B)
Campaspe R [#3]63.7 (C)2 (B)1 sp: 1% cover (B)
Campaspe R [#4]85.8 (A)2 (B)1 sp: 1% cover (B)
Campaspe Lagoon69.7 (B)2 (B)0 (A)
Balfe Ck81.1 (A)2 (B)1 sp: 5% cover (B)
Homestead Ck [#1]72.5 (B)3 (A)1 sp: 50% cover (C)
Homestead Ck [#2]81.1 (A)2 (B)4 sp: 50% cover (D)
Police Ck [#1]60.2 (C)0 (D)3 spp: 70% cover (D)
Police Ck [#2]71.9 (B)0 (D)2 spp: 50% cover (C)
Windsor Ck61.8 (C)2 (B)2 spp: 30% cover (C)
Oaky Ck [#1]78.3 (B)0 (D)1 sp: 5% cover (B)
Oaky Ck [#2]71.9 (B)0 (D)2 spp: 50% cover (D)
Average 65.3 (B)

Reference:Assessing the condition of Riparian Vegetation in the Burdekin catchment

Wetlands

The condition of the Campaspe River sub-division is fairly typical of upper Burdekin rangelands. Although permanent waterbodies are not common, there are a number of significant ones present in several tributaries. Lake Powlathanga is a large, clear, macrophyte-filled, near-perennial lake of regional significance, especially as habitat for waterbirds. This sub-division has been the subject of significant NHT investment in riparian fencing and management and the water quality has been studied by Burrows (2000, 2001) and the fish by Burrows (2001) with Lake Powlathanga and Wambiana Lagoon included as study sites in those studies. The Balfes Creek section of this sub-division (including the catchment area of Lake Powlathanga) is considered to be at high risk of dryland salinity and was a case study under the National Dryland Salinity program. Wambiana Lagoon is another very significant waterbody in this sub-division, being a very large, permanent waterbody in a relatively dry sub-division. Red Hill swamp is a seasonal but heavily vegetated swamp, likely to be important for waterbirds among other fauna. Most of the other tributaries are relatively dry, although some significant waterholes can be found in Victoria Creek and Broadly Creek.

Reference: Assessing the condition of Wetlands in the Burdekin catchment

For more information see Campaspe River wetland condition summary

Water

SedNet Modelling of Water Quality

Model results for the Campaspe River subcatchment are summarized as follows:

  • Subcatchment modelled area: 8,141 sq. km.
  • Source contributions: Hillslope = 67%; Gully = 27%; Streambank = 6%
  • Area of subcatchment with <50% ground cover: 3,635 sq. km or 45% of subcatchment
  • Hillslope sediment supply: 305 kg/ha/yr
  • Total suspended sediment (flow weighted) supply: 368 kt/yr
  • Total suspended sediment supply (flow weighted; normalized to area): 452 kg/ha/yr
  • Total suspended sediment end-of-subcatchment (flow weighted) yield: 278 kt/yr
  • Event Mean Concentration (EMC - flow weighted): 554 mg/L
  • Mean Annual Flow: 501,541 ML

Reference: Improved SedNet Modelling of Grazing Land in the Burdekin Catchment

Hillslope erosion is identified as the major source of sediment and particulate nutrients affecting water quality within the Campaspe River subcatchment (67%) and is predicted to contribute 305 kg/ha/yr. It is estimated that approximately 45% of the subcatchment has poor ground cover (<50%). However, gully erosion is also identified as a significant contributor (27%) to the total sediment load of 368 kt/yr. The rate of soil loss from all sources (supply) is considered moderate (452 kg/ha/yr) when compared to other sub-catchments. The event mean concentration of sediment is considered moderate (554 mg/L) when compared to other sub-catchments. The mean annual flow is relatively low for a catchment of this size and drains from the desert uplands.

The Campaspe River sub-catchment is one of the largest of the Burdekin sub-catchments, covering 6,743 sq km. The significant discrepancy between modelled and actual area corresponds to the division between the Cape and Campaspe River sub-catchments that was used in SedNet.

Water Quality Monitoring

The monitoring site in the Campaspe River catchment is located upstream from the Gregory Developmental Road and has been sampled by ACTFR for 4 years. The catchment area for this monitoring site is 4,572 sq km, of which 93.2% is used for grazing. Intermediate suspended sediment concentrations have been measured in this catchment over the monitoring period (mean concentration of 497 mg/L). This concentration is similar to the event mean concentration predicted by the SedNet model, although comparisons should be made with caution at this site due to the limited 'opportunistic' monitoring which may not be representative of the whole flow hydrograph.

Relevant information of Water Quality Monitoring in the Cape Campaspe River Basin:

Environmental Uses and Values

Aquatic Ecosystems

The aquatic ecosystem values of a small section of the Campaspe River subcatchment, corresponding to the Mount Stewart Range, has been identified as containing High Ecological Value (HEV) waters by the BWQIP ecological values technical panel. The Mount Stewart Range, which lies just north of the Campaspe River crossing on the Flinders Highway, is a coarse granite massif with several ephemeral stream channels. The aquatic ecosystem values of other parts of the Campaspe River subcatchment are considered to be Slightly to Moderately Disturbed (SMD) as a consequence of the surrounding land use for cattle grazing.

The Campaspe River is a seasonal river system with many dry, ephemerally streams that are dry for much of the year. However, several significant permanent or semi-permanent water bodies occur in this subcatchment including Lake Powlathanga, adjacent to Balfe Creek, and Wambiana Lagoon, adjacent to the mid reach of the Campaspe River. These water bodies have been noted for having significant values for aquatic biota and to be important to water birds. However, they were all considered to be modified to some degree. Only one area in the Campaspe River subcatchment was identified by the WQIP ecological values technical panel to be “effectively unmodified” (ANZECC 2000) and has been categorised as containing High Ecological Value (HEV) waters. This area covers the Mount Stewart Range.

The Mount Stewart Range lies just north of the Campaspe River crossing on the Flinders Highway. The Range is a coarse granite massif with several ephemeral flowing stream channels. Streams on the north side of the range flow into Mundie Creek and then into the Campaspe River. The streams on the south-east side of Mount Stewart Range flow through a series of shallow drainage channels to Sensible Creek and then Homestead Creek. Homestead Creek does not then converge with the Campaspe River until after it joins with Balfe Creek.

Stock Watering

Water supply for production of healthy livestock.

Industrial Uses

Reward Copper Mine. Pajingo gold mine.

Primary Recreation

Swimming at Mataranka Pool, near Homestead.

Cultural and Spiritual

Custodial use of water resources by Kudjala traditional owners.

References:

Landuse

Principle land uses within the Campaspe River subcatchment as a proportion of total area:

  • Grazing: 95%
  • Conservation & minimal use: 4%
  • Water: .7%
  • Mining: Limited mining activity use identified.
  • Urban & semi urban: Limited urban and semi urban activity use identified.

Grazing Land

Campaspe River is one of the largest sub-catchments where the land use is dominated by grazing on natural pastures (95%), with only a relatively small area set aside for conservation (4%).

Land Condition

Definition of ABCD land condition framework

Results of a Rapid Land Condition Assessment (adopted from Hassett et al. 2000) are presented below. The assessment has been devised to subjectively characterise condition while traversing the BDT region by vehicle. The data are based on a total of 4666 observations across the Burdekin region between 2004 and 2007.

The data were collected to provide independent information on land condition and provide a regional perspective. Resource assessment data are most useful when interpreted with other sources of data e.g. time-series remote sensing, modelling and water quality monitoring.

The estimated condition of the Campaspe River sub-catchment is proportioned as follows:

  • A Condition: 10%
  • B Condition: 30%
  • C Condition: 57%
  • D Condition: 3%

Data from the Campaspe River sub-catchment is based on 431 observations.

On the basis of the rapid assessment, the Campaspe River sub-catchment is estimated to have the largest proportion of land in poor(C) condition (57%), followed by fair (B) condition (30%) and good (A) condition land (10%). 3% of observed land was in very poor (D) condition.

Ground Cover

Ground Cover in the Campaspe River subcatchment is proportioned as follows:

  • ( BC) Bare Cover: 1%
  • ( LC) Low Cover: 15%
  • ( MC) Moderate Cover: 42%
  • ( HC) High Cover: 40%
  • (VHC) Very High Cover: 2%

Data from the Campaspe River subcatchment are based on 413 observations.

On the basis of the rapid assessment (2004-2007), the Campaspe River subcatchment is estimated to have the highest proportion of land within the moderate (MC) ground cover category (42%), followed by high (HC) cover (40%) and low (LC) cover (15%) categories. 1% of land was estimated to fall into the bare cover (BC) category.

Resource Condition Summary

Campaspe River is one of the largest subcatchments where the land use is dominated by grazing on natural pastures. Only a relatively small area is set aside for conservation and minimal use, while there are some mining activities in the subcatchment. The riparian condition of the subcatchment has deteriorated over the last 30 years, principally as a result of clearing along headwater streams and anabranching floodplains, and is currently assessed to be in fair (B) condition. Extensive field survey results show a wide range of conditions on-ground, with weediness a pervasive problem and a lack of regeneration at some sites. Campaspe River subcatchment waterways are fairly typical for the basin and, although permanent waterbodies are not common, there are a number of significant ones present in several tributaries. These include Lake Powlathanga and Wambiana Lagoon, both of which are relatively large permanent or semi-permanent waterbodies in a relatively dry subcatchment. Red Hill swamp is a seasonal but heavily vegetated swamp, likely to be important for waterbirds among other fauna. Most of the other tributaries are relatively dry, although some significant waterholes can be found in Victoria and Broadly Creeks.

Hillslope erosion is identified by models as the major source of sediment and particulate nutrients affecting water quality within the Campaspe River subcatchment, while gully erosion is also identified as a significant contributor to the total sediment load. The rate of soil loss is predicted to be moderately elevated, while the total amount of soil loss from the subcatchment to waterways is comparatively high due to its large area. Land condition is assessed as having a very high proportion in poor (C) condition, although fair (B) condition land is apparently quite common. This is not well reflected in the rapid ground cover assessment (2004-07). However, analysis of ground cover from satellite imagery (reference) identifies areas of vulnerable and marginal 'D' condition land throughout much of the subcatchment, particularly along the lower reaches of the Campaspe River and Policeman Creek, and Homestead Creek.

Water quality in the Campaspe River subcatchment is predicted by models to be moderately impacted by suspended sediment, with elevated concentrations of sediments at the end-of-subcatchment. Water quality monitoring data from this subcatchment are generally consistent with model predictions.

Campaspe River is identified as a priority subcatchment for rehabilitation on the basis of its contribution to the total sediment load within the basin, and large area of vulnerable and marginal 'D' condition land.

Draft Environmental Values

A small section of the Campaspe River subcatchment, corresponding to the Mount Stewart Range, has been identified as containing High Ecological Value (HEV) waters by the BWQIP ecological values technical panel. The Mount Stewart Range, which lies just north of the Campaspe River crossing on the Flinders Highway, is a coarse granite massif with several ephemeral stream channels. The aquatic ecosystem values of other parts of the Campaspe River subcatchment are considered to be Slightly to Moderately Disturbed (SMD) as a consequence of the surrounding land use for cattle grazing. The human use Environmental Values of the Campaspe River subcatchment are understood to include recreation (swimming & visual appreciation), stock watering, industrial use, and the cultural and spiritual values of the Kudjala traditional owners.

Maps

Photos

References

CampaspeRiver.jpg
Download Catchment Layer as *.kml (requires Google Earth)

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