The Intersecting Streams arise in Queensland and flow across the border into New South Wales. These streams include the Narran, Bokhara, Culgoa, Warrego and Paroo rivers and key wetland systems including the Ramsar-listed Narran Lakes, Paroo Wetlands and Yantabulla Swamp. The river systems are located on a series of semi-arid floodplains and are fed by rainfall in the central and western areas of Queensland.
Flows in these river systems are intermittent and unregulated, and flow events are typically associated with summer monsoonal weather systems across northern Australia.
The focus of water managers in 2020–21, with an expected dry to moderate resource availability scenario as identified in the Intersecting Streams catchment: Annual environmental watering priorities 2020–21, was to optimise the outcomes of recent flows with a focus on creating opportunities for northern basin recovery.
The 2020–21 water year saw significant rainfall and flows in parts of the Intersecting Streams. Although the Moonie, Culgoa, Narran, Birrie, Bokhara, and Paroo rivers experienced cease-to-flow conditions for most of the year, they were replenished by flows in March 2021.
Significant rainfall upstream of St George through February and March 2021 resulted in flows in the Culgoa, Birrie, Bokhara and Narran rivers from the Lower Balonne. Some of this water reached the Narran Lakes, which received flows for the second year in a row. The Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder participated in this event by protecting 43 gigalitres using their Queensland licenses.
Flows in the Intersecting Streams system in early 2021 included:
- flows within Queensland that reached Narran Lakes in early April 2021
- flows in the Paroo River that inundated parts of the Paroo Wetlands Ramsar site
- small flows in the Warrego system that extended through Toorale National Park and Toorale State Conservation Area in early 2021
- inflows into the Culgoa, Birrie, Bokhara and Moonie rivers in early 2021, which provided connection to the Barwon River.