The Queensland Government's management of floodplains on the environmentally important Paroo River has been called into question in a new study by UNSW researchers.

The study found that a new floodplain development on the Paroo River near Eulo in Queensland threatens the river's status as the last free-flowing river in the Murray-Darling Basin.

In 2003, the premiers of Queensland and New South Wales signed the Paroo River Agreement to protect flows in this river, agreeing not to allow extraction of water.

But earlier this year the Queensland Government approved the development of nine storages with a storage capacity of 10,338 megalitres, on the basis that the development had either begun or was in place on the June 9, 2001, the date of a Queensland moratorium on floodplain development was declared.

The UNSW study used highly detailed satellite photographs to compare the relevant area in 2002 and 2008 to determine whether floodplain development was in place after the moratorium. The team found only three of the nine storages recently approved by the Queensland Government were in place in 2002.

"Of greatest concern was the clear identification of two new storages, more than 10 kilometres of channels and clearing for irrigation that were neither started nor in place in June 2001," said Professor Richard Kingsford, who is Professor of Environmental Science at UNSW.

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