THE Queenland Government wants to open the historic Cooper Creek and Diamantina and Georgina rivers to irrigation.
And this could risk a full-on brawl with graziers who fought such proposals 15 years ago, the Courier Mail reports.
As part of the process, the Government will most likely dump the Lake Eyre Basin wild rivers listings mid next year, meaning graziers also will lose the most powerful legislative tool they have to protect Channel Country properties from mining.
Large-scale irrigation for crops such as cotton will not be approved but lower-impact proposals such as grapes, fodder and dates will be considered.
Natural Resources Minister Andrew Cripps last week met with the Western Rivers Advisory Panel, which he set up to advise on reforms.
Grazier Angus Emmott of the Cooper Creek Catchment Committee and a panel member said irrigation should be banned.
"Once you make irrigation available ... others will apply and you will end up with an over-allocation of water," he said. "We've been through this discussion ad nauseam for 15 years. Most people out here recognise it's not the smartest way to go.
"Our rivers are in great shape and we should keep 'em that way."
Mr Emmott said he hoped wild river listings would stay, in effect, under another name.
"It's totally the best protection we have from the mining industry. I'm happy to work with Mr Cripps but if wild rivers goes, it will be a bad decision and a lost opportunity," he said. "My station (Noonbah) is on the Thomson River and Vergemont Creek, which puts about half of it in a high preservation zone (prohibiting surface mining). That has enhanced the value of my land."
Mr Cripps's spokeswoman said wild rivers would stay until an alternative framework was implemented.