This project produced critical information about water availability in northern Australia.


CSIRO's Northern Australia Sustainable Yields (NASY) project produced critical information on historical, recent and likely future water availability in a part of Australia that is renowned for its high rainfall, pristine tropical environments and relatively low development.

This information will help governments, industry and communities consider the environmental, social and economic aspects of the sustainable use and management of the water assets of northern Australia.

Funded by the National Water Commission, the project resulted from a March 2008 decision by the Council of Australian Governments for a comprehensive scientific assessment of water yield in all major water systems across the country.

Key findings

  1. This project has developed and tested models that can provide a contiguous, consistent, robust and transparent analysis of water across northern Australia.
  2. Water availability was assessed for three drainage divisions and 13 regions of northern Australia.
  3. The climate is extreme, extremely seasonal and water-limited.
  4. The recent climate should not be used as a guide to the future.
  5. The future will be warmer; rainfall may be more intense; some areas may receive slightly less rainfall.
  6. Known future development will have minimal regional consequences, but may be locally important.
  7. Perennial rivers are vital assets.
  8. Opportunities to increase water storage are limited.
  9. There are opportunities for groundwater development but more data are required to determine extraction limits.
  10. There are few quantified environmental flow thresholds. Ecosystems have adapted to the extreme, seasonal climate conditions and are highly responsive to any change.

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