|The Lake Eyre Basin is one of the world's largest internal drainage system. It covers approximately 1.2 million square kilometres of arid and semi-arid Central Australia. This is about one-sixth of the continent or the same size as the Murray Darling system or about twice the size of the US state of Texas.
It is considered to be one of the world's last unregulated, wild river systems. Unlike other river systems, flows in the Basin are highly variable and unpredictable.
Lake Eyre itself, at 15 metres below sea level, is Australia’s lowest point. It is also the fifth largest (9,690 square kilometres) terminal lake in the world although it usually contains little or no water.
All the rivers and creeks are ephemeral with short periods of flow following rain and extended periods of no flow. The volume of flow decreases downstream reflecting increasing aridity towards Lake Eyre and the huge dispersal system of braided channels, floodplains, waterholes and wetlands on the way. The many large permanent waterholes in the system provide vital habitat for wildlife and are important to towns, communities and pastoral holdings.
The Basin is part of Australia's arid zone and the ecosystems it supports are varied and often unique. Land use within the Basin is equally varied, and includes (but is not limited to) pastoralism, mining, tourism, oil and gas exploration and production, conservation and Aboriginal activities. The area is culturally significant and contains a wealth of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal history.
The Lake Eyre Basin is rich in environmental, economic and cultural assets that are important for people both within and outside the Basin. The sustainable management of these assets is in the local, regional and national interest.
The highest recorded level in Lake Eyre was in 1974 but it would take the average flow of Australia’s largest river, the Murray to maintain that level. The Danube River would fill Lake Eyre to the 1974 level in forty-five days; the Mississippi in twenty-two days, and the Amazon in three days.
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