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National Water Account 2017

Fitzroy: Geographic information

  • The Fitzroy region is one of Australia's larger surface water catchments.
  • Important features in the region include the Fitzroy River Barrage and Fairbairn Dam, as well as many weirs, lakes and waterholes that supply surface water.
  • Water in the region is primarily used for agricultural purposes.

Key Message 

For further geographic information about the region scroll down this page or click on the links below:

 

 

 

General description

Area: 142,544 km2
Population: 159,101 (Australian Bureau of Statistics [ABS] 2016)

Figure R1 Contextual map of the Fitzroy region
Figure R1 Contextual map of the Fitzroy region

 

Fitzroy River (Grant H Phillips © iStock)

  • The Fitzroy region is located on the central Queensland coast and is physically defined by the Fitzroy Basin surface water catchment. More than 20,000 kilometres of waterways flow through this catchment.
  • The Fitzroy is the largest catchment to drain into the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef Lagoon, and comprises six main rivers: the Isaac, Nogoa, Comet, Fitzroy, Mackenzie and Dawson.
  • The region accounts for 1.7% of Australia's water use, primarily taken from surface water for agricultural purposes.

 

Land use

Figure R2 Land use in the Fitzroy region

Figure R2 Land use in the Fitzroy region

Source: (Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences 2016)

 

  • Approximately 78% of the region is used for pastoral grazing, primarily beef cattle.
  • Mining is an important land use although covering a relatively small area; 40 of Queensland’s 55 coal mines are located in the region.
  • Irrigated agriculture is concentrated around the Emerald and Theodore Irrigation Areas, with some dryland cropping to the west of the region.
  • Rockhampton, Emerald, Moranbah, and Biloela are the main regional centres.

 

Significant aquatic ecosystems

Figure R3 Significant wetlands in the Fitzroy region

Figure R3 Significant wetlands in the Fitzroy region

 

Water resources

Fairbairn Dam (© DNRME)

  • Surface water is the primary water resource in the Fitzroy region, with many storages including the Fitzroy River Barrage, Fairbairn Dam and numerous smaller reservoirs and weirs.
  • Groundwater is an important resource in some areas, in particular the Callide Valley, where groundwater recharge is promoted by hydraulic control structures on the surface water systems.

 

 

Surface water

Storages

 

Figure R4 Surface water storages within the Fitzroy region

Figure R4 Surface water storages within the Fitzroy region

 

  • Fairbairn Dam is the region's largest water storage, and is used for irrigation, public water supply to the towns of Emerald, Blackwater, Bluff, Tieri, Dysart and Middlemount, and mining and industrial water supply.
  • The Fitzroy Barrage is the water supply for Rockhampton, the region's largest town.
  • There are numerous other weirs, dams, and channel systems used as part of water supply schemes in the region.

 

Rivers

  • The seasonal flow characteristics of rivers within the Fitzroy region reflect the region's annual rainfall pattern. Most of the rainfall occurs between November and April. Consequently, most of the streamflow within the region occurs between December and April.
  • Most of the rivers and creeks in the Fitzroy region can cease to flow during May–October. Releases from Fairbairn Dam regulate flows in the Nogoa River for water supply during these months. Flows in the lower reaches of the Fitzroy River are generally perennial.
  • The gauging stations used to represent the general seasonal flow patterns of these rivers are shown in Figure R5.

 

Figure R5 Key flow gauging stations along the main rivers within the Fitzroy region

Figure R5 Key flow gauging stations along the main rivers within the Fitzroy region

 

Figure R6 Mean monthly flows along the Fitzroy and Isaac rivers and mean monthly rainfall for the Fitzroy region.

Figure R6 Mean monthly flows along the Fitzroy and Isaac rivers and mean monthly rainfall for the Fitzroy region.

 

Groundwater

Figure R6 groundwater management areas in the Fitzroy region

Figure R7 Groundwater management areas in the Fitzroy region

  • There are five groundwater management areas in the region: Isaac Connors, Highlands, Carnarvon, Callide, and Fitzroy.
  • Groundwater resources in the Carnarvon Groundwater Management Area form part of the Great Artesian Basin; however Great Artesian Basin resources are excluded from this account.
  • Water is supplied to irrigated agriculture, town supply, mining and industry from aquifers in the Callide Valley. Control structures on Callide and Kroombit creeks are used to promote groundwater recharge into these aquifers after release of surface water from Callide and Kroombit dams.

 

Water systems

Irrigation areas

  • Irrigation areas are concentrated around the Dawson Valley (Theodore Irrigation Area) and Fairbairn Dam (Emerald Irrigation Area), which each have two irrigation channel systems (Theodore and Gibber Gunyah, and Selma and Weema, respectively).
  • Cotton is the main irrigated crop and and irrigation is carried out throughout the water supply schemes and water management areas detailed below, using supplemented and unsupplemented water.

 

Water supply schemes

Figure R8 Water supply schemes in the Fitzroy region

 

Rockhampton, viewed from Mount Archer (Alexander Jung © iStock)

  • There are five supplemented water supply schemes in the Fitzroy region: Callide Valley, Dawson Valley, Fitzroy Barrage, Lower Fitzroy and Nogoa Mackenzie.
  • These schemes are managed and operated by SunWater, except for the Fitzroy Barrage Water Supply Scheme which is managed and operated by Fitzroy River Water, a commercial entity of Rockhampton Regional Council.
  • Numerous reservoirs, weirs, and pipelines are used in these schemes to store and distribute water to users, for purposes including irrigation, town water supply, and mining and industrial use.

 

 

Water management areas


Figure R9 Water management areas in the Fitzroy region

 

  • There are five unsupplemented water management areas in the region–Dawson Valley, Nogoa Mackenzie, Fitzroy, Comet, and Theresa Retreat–as well as the Lower Callide Groundwater sub-area.
  • Unsupplemented water is provided to irrigators from these areas, and is managed by the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy.