Upper Belyando River

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Subcatchments

Smaller subcatchments within the Upper Belyando River Catchment include:

  • Belyando River
  • Belyando River (West Branch)
  • Eastern Creek
  • Portwine Creek
  • Breakaway Creek
  • Bottletree Creek
  • Rifle Creek
  • Ironpot Creek
  • Jampot Creek
  • Craven Creek
  • Schofield Creek

Vegetation

Riparian Habitat

iTRARC analysis of Riparian Habitat indicates that this subcatchment has gone from being in relatively good (B) condition to very poor (D) condition in the last 30 years. This is due primarily to floodplain clearing and an increase of bare soil on the floodplain, as well as an increase in gullying/scalding. The field survey results also indicate that this catchment is in poor condition, however the moderate levels of recruitment and absence of weeds indicate that this catchment may be resilient if the right management actions were applied.

iTRARC Scores

Catchment Class 2 A
Maximum iTRARC Score 24 (A+)
1970s Score 10 (B)
2004 Score 0 (D)
Reduction in Ecosystem Services Large
Increase in Potential for Erosion Moderate
Reasons for Change in Score
  • Clearing along headwater streams including forest
  • Clearing of forest from anabranches
  • Substantial floodplain clearing
  • Increased floodplain bare soil
  • Increased gullying/scalding

TRARC (field survey) scores

Survey SiteScoreRegenerationWeeds
Belyando R [#1]53.6 (C)1 (C)0 (A)
Belyando R [#2]59.4 (C)2 (B)0 (A)
Belyando R [#3]62.6 (C)2 (B)0 (A)
Belyando R [#4]62.8 (C)2 (B)0 (A)
Portwine Ck55.7 (C)2 (B)0 (A)
Average 58.8 (C)

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

Wetlands

This sub-division is poorly known ecologically, with even basic knowledge on permanent or significant waterbodies, not recorded. The system here includes numerous channels and off-channel waterbodies, and waterholes present are likely to be highly and persistently turbid. Condition is not well known, but likely to be typical of the Belyando-Suttor sub-catchment.

Reference: Assessing the condition of Wetlands in the Burdekin catchment

For more information see Upper Belyando River wetland condition summary

Water

SedNet Modelling of Water Quality

Model results for the Upper Belyando subcatchment are summarized as follows:

  • Upper Belyando River Subcatchment modelled area 5840 sq. km.
  • Source contributions: Hillslope = 75%; Gully = 15%; Streambank = 9%
  • Area of subcatchment with <50% ground cover: 3520 sq. km or 60% of subcatchment
  • Hillslope sediment supply: 391 kg/ha/yr
  • Total suspended sediment (flow weighted) supply: 303 kt/yr
  • Total suspended sediment end-of-subcatchment (flow weighted) yield: 362 kt/yr
  • Total suspended sediment supply (flow weighted; normalized to area): 519kg/ha/yr
  • Event Mean Concentration (EMC - flow weighted): 704 mg/L
  • Mean Annual Flow: 514,000 ML

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

The Upper Belyando River is one of the five largest Burdekin subcatchments. It experiences relatively high seasonal flow (514,000ML) and high amounts of sediments and associated nutrients enter the waterways (303 kt/yr). High flows result in lower event mean concentrations (704 mg/L) compared to other subcatchments. Hillslope erosion is estimated to account for three quarters of the total amount of sediment supply to the Upper Belyando River. This subcatchment suffers from the highest proportion of land with less than 50% ground cover (60% of the total Belyando subcatchment). This is equivalent to approximately 3,520 sq. km, an area of land larger than the total size of most of the other Burdekin subcatchments.

Water Quality Monitoring

The monitoring site in the Upper Belyando catchment is located on Surbiton Station and has been sampled by NQ Dry Tropics Volunteers program for 2 years (2005/06 and 2006/07 wet seasons). The site drains a catchment area of 5,479 sq km of which 99.9% is used for grazing. Suspended sediment concentrations have been relatively high (mean concentration of 1388 mg/L) compared to other catchments within the Burdekin rangelands over the monitoring period. The monitoring suggests that the SedNet model may be underestimating suspended sediment loads in this catchment, although additional data are required before any strong comparisons can been made with the model.

Relevant information of Water Quality Monitoring in the Belyando River Basin:

Environmental Uses and Values

Aquatic Ecosystems

The aquatic ecosystem values of a small section of the Upper Belyando River subcatchment, corresponding to the Narrien Range National Park in the north-east of the subcatchment, has been identified as containing High Ecological Value (HEV) waters by the BWQIP ecological values technical panel. Spring-fed creeks are thought to originate in the Narrien Range and to provide a very important source of water in an otherwise dry landscape. The aquatic ecosystem values of other parts of the subcatchment are considered to be Slightly to Moderately Disturbed (SMD) as a consequence of the surrounding land use for cattle grazing.

Upper Belyando River subcatchment draft HEV waters

Irrigation

Landholders hold licences for the extraction (by pump) of water from the Belyando River (3400 hectares) for irrigated agriculture, including cotton and maize. There is currently pressure to expand irrigated agriculture.

Stock Watering

Water supply for production of healthy livestock.

Farm Water Supply

Water use for fruit cleaning.

Drinking Water

Dispersed habitation, mainly on farms and small communities. Significant growth in the urban population is not expected.

Cultural and Spiritual

The Belyando River have been nominated as a “Heritage River”. The traditional owners are Wangan / Jangalingou people and Bidjara people in the head waters.

References:

Landuse

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

  • Grazing: 99.3%
  • Conservation & minimal use: Limited conservation & minimal water activity use identified
  • Water: Limited water activity use identified.

Grazing Land

Upper Belyando River is a large subcatchment where the land use is almost exclusively grazing on natural and modified pastures.

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 Upper Belyando River sub-catchment is proportioned as follows:

  • A Condition: 23%
  • B Condition: 38%
  • C Condition: 28%
  • D Condition: 10%

Data from the Upper Belyando River sub-catchment is based on 120 observations.

On the basis of the rapid assessment, the Upper Belayndo River sub-catchment is estimated to have the largest proportion of land in fair (B) condition (38%), followed by poor (C) condition (28%) and good (A) condition land (23%). 10% of observed land was in very poor (D) condition.

Ground Cover

Ground Cover in the Upper Belyando River sub-catchment is proportioned as follows:

  • ( BC) Bare Cover: 0%
  • ( LC) Low Cover: 7%
  • ( MC) Moderate Cover: 41%
  • ( HC) High Cover: 47%
  • (VHC) Very High Cover: 4%

Data from the Upper Belyando River sub-catchment are based on 121 observations.

On the basis of the rapid assessment (2004-2007), the Upper Belayndo River sub-catchment is estimated to have the highest proportion of land within the high (HC) ground cover category (47%), followed by moderate (MC) cover (41%) and low (LC) cover (7%) categories. 4% of land was estimated to fall into the very high cover (VHC) category.

Resource Condition Summary

Upper Belyando River is a large subcatchment where the land use is almost exclusively grazing on natural and modified pastures. Riparian habitat in this subcatchment has undergone a major decline in condition over the last 30 years, principlly as a result of floodplain and riparian clearing along the main channel, anabranches and headwater streams, and is currently assessed to be in very poor (D) condition. The subcatchment waterways are poorly known ecologically, with even basic knowledge on the number and location of permanent or significant waterbodies not recorded. The waterways are understood to include numerous in-channel and off-channel waterbodies that are likely to be highly and persistently turbid.

Hillslope erosion is identified by models as the major source of sediment and particulate nutrients affecting water quality in the Upper Belyando subcatchment. The rate of soil loss is predicted to be moderate and above the Basin average, while the total amount of soil loss from the subcatchment to waterways is comparatively high. Land condition is assessed as having high proportions in fair (B) and poor (C) condition, while good (A) condition and very poor (D) condition land is quite common. This is not very well reflected in the rapid ground cover assessment (2004-07). However, analyses of ground cover from satellite imagery (reference) identify areas of highly vulnerable and marginal 'D' condition land throughout much of the subcatchment. The mean ground cover declined substantially from 1999 to 2006 and very large areas of poor ground cover were common in 2006.

Water quality in the Upper Belyando River subcatchment is predicted by models to be moderately impacted by suspended sediment during wet season event flows. This is also reflected in water quality monitoring data that recorded higher that predicted concentrations of suspended sediments at end-of-catchment.

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

Draft Environmental Values

A small section of the Upper Belyando River subcatchment, corresponding to the Narrien Range National Park in the north-east of the subcatchment, has been identified as containing High Ecological Value (HEV) waters by the BWQIP ecological values technical panel. Spring-fed creeks are thought to originate in the Narrien Range and to provide a very important source of water in an otherwise dry landscape. The aquatic ecosystem values of other parts of the 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 subcatchment are thought to be limited to use for irrigation, stock watering, farm use, drinking water, and the cultural and spiritual values of the Wangan, Jagalingou and Bidjara traditional owners.

Maps

References

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

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