Border Rivers Valley
The Border Rivers catchment is a productive region encompassing northern NSW and southern Queensland which stretches from the Great Dividing Range (Inverell, Glen Innes, Tenterfield, Stanthorpe) down the slopes (Inglewood, Texas, Yelarbon, Ashford, North Star, Yetman) and onto the Western Plains (Goondiwindi, Boggabilla, Talwood, Boomi) to its end at Mungindi.
Tributaries of the valley are Macintyre River, Dumaresq River, Severn River (NSW), Severn River (QLD), Macintyre Brook, Weir River. The headwater storages are Pindari Dam (312 GL), Glenlyon Dam (261 GL), Coolmunda Dam (69 GL). Only 13% of the catchment is intercepted by headwater storage, making the Border Rivers a primarily a free-flowing system. The central and western areas in the Border Rivers also incorporates the Great Artesian Basin, groundwater sources provide water security for people, towns and stock.
The Border Rivers region has a rare combination of fertile soils, a moderate climate and water resources available to grow abundant natural produce all year round. Producers in the Border Rivers operate a high standard of agricultural management practices to ensure a healthy environment is maintained and sustainable farming future.
The Border Rivers catchment is very diverse, ranging from elevations of the Great Dividing Range in the east to the semi-arid plains in the west. The rivers and wetlands in the region provide habitat for a range of native fish, bird and other species. Wetlands of environmental and Aboriginal significance in the Border Rivers are Morella Watercourse, Boobera Lagoon and Pungbougal Lagoon which are located on the MacIntyre River floodplain.
People & Industry
The Border Rivers is home to about 50,000 people. Aboriginal nations of the region include the Bigambul, Euahlayi, Githabul, Kambuwal, Gomeroi/Kamilaroi, Kwiambul, and Ngarabal.
Agriculture is the main employment sector in the region, reflecting a diverse primary industry. Grazing and dryland agriculture accounts for approximately 80% of land use in the Border Rivers catchment.
Irrigated land makes up about 60,000 hectares which produces cotton, wheat, sorghum, lucerne, olives, peanuts, corn, stone and pome fruits, vegetables, wine and table grapes, nuts and citrus. Primary Industries generate $350M to $400M (farm-gate) in a good year, and provide more than 3,000 jobs which underpins the broader economy. Local businesses and schools surrounding each town is exceptionally dependant on the reliability of the local irrigation industry.
The Border Rivers climate is sub-tropical with average annual rainfall ranges from approximately 800 mm in the east to 400 mm in the west. Rainfall occurs throughout the year with most rainfall occurring during the summer months, higher streamflow’s typically occur during these months.
The rivers in the north of the Basin are extremely variable in their flow patterns due to the naturally episodic rainfall. Without water storages built during the late 20th century most of the northern rivers would spend a lot of the time dry, reducing the possibility of permanent habitation and greatly reducing agricultural production of any type.
Losses in the Darling system streams are much greater than the southern connected system. This is accounted for by the periodic and episodic interval of flows, the longer distance for water to travel, the naturally porous geology and high evaporation rates due to high summer temperatures.
Compared to the southern basin valleys, the Border Rivers and most of the northern basin has much less public headwater storage capacity. Privately owned storages make up a large proportion of the region’s total water storage capacity, because of the long intervals between flows and the much greater variability in flow volumes.