The Lake Eyre Basin Intergovernmental Agreement provides for the Ministerial Forum to develop policies and strategies for the sustainable cross-border management of water and related natural resources within the Agreement Area.
Since its inception in 2001, the LEB Ministerial Forum has adopted six policies under the Agreement, providing for a whole-of-basin approach to cross-border management of water and related natural resources. The aim of these policies is to ensure complementarity between the relevant legislation, policies, and planning processes across the Basin.
- River Flows Policy: Flow regimes of river systems within the Agreement Area will be managed to protect and maintain the ecological integrity and natural function of in-stream and floodplain ecosystems, and the viability of economic, social, cultural and other activities which do not threaten these environmental values
- Water Quality Policy: Water quality in the river systems within the Agreement Area will be managed to protect and maintain the ecological integrity and natural function of in-stream and floodplain ecosystems and the viability of economic, social, cultural and other activities which do not threaten these environmental values
- Water And Related Natural Resources Policy: Water and related natural resources associated with the river systems within the Agreement Area will be managed to protect and maintain the ecological integrity and natural function of in-stream and floodplain ecosystems and the viability of economic, social, cultural and other activities which do not threaten these environmental values
- Existing Entitlements and Water Resource Development Policy: Water resource planning, allocation and management arrangements, including the management of water entitlements, will be compatible with the Lake Eyre Basin Agreement. Efficient use of water will be a fundamental principle of water entitlements and utilisation. Water resource development proposals will be assessed to determine their potential impact on river flows and water quality, and compatibility with the Agreement and relevant water resource plans. These assessments will be based on the best available scientific information and local knowledge (including information from other regions in Australia and overseas).
- Research and Monitoring Policy: Management of water and related natural resources associated with the river systems in the Agreement Area will be guided by the best available scientific information and local knowledge, and by the results of ongoing monitoring and periodic assessment of the condition of these river systems. Targeted research may also be undertaken to address identified knowledge gaps.
- Whole-of-Basin Approach Policy: Water and related natural resources in the Lake Eyre Basin Agreement Area will be managed through a whole-of-Basin approach so as to achieve complementary outcomes, through the implementation of State/Territory legislation and the plans and associated investment strategies of relevant regional bodies in Queensland, South Australia and the Northern Territory.
Implementing the policies of the LEB Ministerial Forum requires coordination and information exchange between the various jurisdictions, regional NRM bodies and other stakeholders in the Basin.
The LEB jurisdictions, the Community Advisory Committee, the Scientific Advisory Panel and key community groups in the Basin are collaborating to develop and implement strategies under the LEB Agreement that create synergies across the Basin while avoiding duplication with existing initiatives.
Issues addressed by current priority strategies under the Agreement include:
- Coordination and consistency of approach to aquatic and terrestrial weed and feral animal management activities.
- Assessment of the need for convergence and/or alignment of legislation, policy and planning for water resource management in different jurisdictions.
- Best practice in road and other engineering works that have potential to significantly affect the distribution and timing of river flows.
- Potential for coordination of water quality monitoring and data management frameworks across jurisdictions to enable data collation, analysis, comparison and reporting at regional, catchment and whole-of-basin scales.
- Promotion of a Basin-wide approach to NRM decision-making, including the comprehensive assessment of water resource development proposals for their appropriateness for Lake Eyre Basin river systems and catchments.
- Communication needs, including:
- integration of the LEB Rivers Assessment outcomes into water and related natural resource management decision-making
- continued engagement of non-Indigenous and Indigenous stakeholders to ensure that local knowledge is recognised and utilised in assessment and management of the Basin
- annual reporting to the Basin community on progress in implementing the Agreement
- improved access for community and other stakeholders to information on the economic, social, environmental and heritage values of the Basin.