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National Water Account 2018

South East Queensland: Geographic information

  • The South East Queensland region includes Queensland's major population centres of Brisbane, Ipswich, the Gold Coast, and the Sunshine Coast.
  • The region has an extensive network of water bodies consisting of creeks, rivers, wetlands, lakes, bays and the Pacific Ocean.
  • Surface water is the main water source, primarily for urban supply.

Map showing the following summary information for the South East Queensland region. Water use: 2.4% of Australia's water use. Land use: 51% of the region used for grazing. Ecosystems: 1 Ramsar wetland of international importance. Water resources: 95% of water is sourced from surface water.

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

 

General description

Area: 24,081 km²
Population: 3.27 million (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2016)

Map showing the key water features of the South East Queensland region. The South East Queensland region boundary is defined by seven surface water catchments. Catchments shown are: Brisbane, located in the west; Logan-Albert, located in the southwest; Maroochy, located in the northeast; Noosa (part), located in the northeast; Pine, located in the central east; South Coast, located in the southeast; and Mary (part), located in the north.

Figure R1 Contextual map of the South East Queensland region

 

  • The region is located on the southeast coast of Queensland, and includes the major population centres of Brisbane, Ipswich, the Gold Coast, and the Sunshine Coast.
  • The boundary of the region is physically defined by the Brisbane, Logan-Albert, Maroochy, and Pine river catchments, as well as the South Coast catchment and part of the Mary and Noosa river catchments.
  • The region is home to an extensive network of water bodies, consisting of creeks, rivers, wetlands, lakes, bays and the Pacific Ocean.

 

Land use

Map showing the distribution and land use types within the South East Queensland region. Major towns/cities are marked on the map for Brisbane (central east), Gold Coast (southeast), Logan (central east, south of Brisbane), Ipswich (central, west of Brisbane), Noosa Heads, Yaroomba and Maroochydore (far northeast), Caboolture (central east, north of Brisbane), Blackbutt and Kilcoy (northwest), Esk, Gatton and Laidley (central west), and Beaudesert and Kooralbyn (southwest). The main land use in the South East Queensland region is grazing. This occurs in the west of the region. The second largest land use is conservation and natural environment. This mainly occurs in the centre and east of the region. Urban is the other major land use. This occurs in the east of the region, mainly around the cities of Brisbane, Logan, Ipswich, and the Gold Coast. Other land use types shown are forestry, dryland agriculture, irrigated agriculture, mining, water, and other intensive uses.

Figure R2 Land use in the South East Queensland region

Source: Interpreted from Australian Government Department of Agriculture 2016.

 

  • The South East Queensland region is the most densely populated area of Queensland, and includes Brisbane (1.25 million residents), Ipswich (0.33 million), the Gold Coast (0.59 million), and the Sunshine Coast (0.36 million).
  • Urban land use activities are a major water user in the region, although covering a relatively small area (8% of the region).
  • Grazing is the predominant land use outside of the urban centres, and occupies more than 50% of the region.

 

Significant aquatic ecosystems

Map showing locations of 16 nationally important wetlands in the South East Queensland region. . Major towns/cities are marked on the map for Brisbane (central east), Gold Coast (southeast), Logan (central east, south of Brisbane), Ipswich (central, west of Brisbane), Noosa Heads, Yaroomba and Maroochydore (far northeast), Caboolture (central east, north of Brisbane), Blackbutt and Kilcoy (northwest), Esk, Gatton and Laidley (central west), and Beaudesert and Kooralbyn (southwest). Most wetlands are located within the eastern coastal portion of the region. Wetlands in the northeast of this coastal area are: Noosa River Wetlands, Lake Weyba, Coolum Creek and Lower Maroochy River, and Lower Mooloolah River. Wetlands in the Moreton Bay Ramsar internationally important wetland in the central east of this coastal area are: Upper Pumicestone Coastal Plain, Pumicestone Passage, Bribie Island, Pine River and Hayes Inlet, and North Stradbroke Island. Wetlands in the southeast of the coastal area are: Carbrook Wetlands Aggregation and Lake Coombabah. Wetlands not in the coastal area are: Obi Obi Creek and Conondale Range Aggregation (north), Dalrymple and Blackfellow Creeks (southwest), Upper Coomera River (southeast), and Greenbank Army Training Area C (central, southeast of Ipswich).

Figure R3 Nationally important wetlands and Ramsar wetlands in the South East Queensland region

 

  • There are 16 nationally important wetlands listed in the Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia within the region.
  • These wetlands cover in excess of 3,200 km², with habitats ranging from perched freshwater lakes and sedge swamps on offshore sand islands, to intertidal mudflats, marshes, sandflats and mangroves in near-shore marine areas.
  • The wetlands of Moreton Bay are listed in the international Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and receive river outflows from the region.

  

Significant Aboriginal cultural places and practices

  • Prior to European settlement, a large number of Aboriginal people lived in the South East Queensland region (Jabree Ltd 2013). It is estimated that the Logan, Albert, Coomera and Nerang catchment areas once contained 1,500 to 2,000 Aboriginal communities.
  • There are four indigenous sub-regions within South East Queensland, corresponding to the recognised language groups for the Goori / Murri Nation (Choy et al. 2011). The boundaries of these sub-regions are mostly delineated by rivers within the region as described in Table R1.
  • There are numerous registered cultural heritage sites near waterways in the region, including 11 sites along the Albert River, four along the Bremer River, ten along the Coomera River, seven along Lockyer Creek, and ten along the Logan River (Constable and Love 2015).
  • The creation stories of water Warrajum (Bunyip) and Walmaroo (Sand Goanna) of the Ugarapul people are examples of the spiritual and cultural links of local Aboriginal people with rivers in the region. Multiple cultural water assets associated with these and other narratives have been identified in the region of both spiritual and customary value (Constable and Love 2015).

 

Table R1 Indigenous sub-regions in the South East Queensland region (after Choy et al. 2011)
Sub-regionApproximate geographic locationPeoples
Northern sub-regionArea from the north of the Noosa River to Pine RiverGubbi Gubbi, Kabi Kabi, Jinibara, and Dalungbara people
Central sub-regionArea between the Pine and Logan Rivers to the western extent of the regionJagera (Jagera, Yuggera, Ugarapul), Jinibara, and Turrbal people
Southern sub-region

Area between the Logan River and the southern border of the regionYugambeh (eight tribes), Ngarang-Wal/Kombumerri, Mulanjarlie, and Eastern Yugambeh people
Eastern sub-regionMoreton Bay islands, adjacent mainland, and sea countryQuandamooka (Ngugi, Noonucle, Gorenpul) people

 

Water resources

  • Most of the region's water supply comes from surface water, which is mainly used for urban supply.
  • Groundwater extraction, mainly for agricultural use, is primarily limited to several alluvial aquifers located along river valleys.
  • Some desalinated and recycled water resources within the region can supplement surface and groundwater resources for urban use and power supply.

 

Surface water

Storages

Figure R4 Surface water storages in the South East Queensland region
Figure R4 Surface water storages in the South East Queensland region

 

  • Surface water storages are an important water source in the region, mainly for urban water supply.
  • The five largest storages in the region are Wivenhoe, Somerset, Hinze, North Pine, and Wyaralong. Together they represent approximately 80% of the region's storage capacity.

 

Rivers

  • The five main rivers in the region are the Albert, Bremer, Brisbane, Logan, and Maroochy rivers.

 

Map showing the locations of  key gauging stations along the main rivers in the South East Queensland region. Major towns/cities are marked on the map for Brisbane (central east), Gold Coast (southeast), Logan (central east, south of Brisbane), Ipswich (central, west of Brisbane), Noosa Heads, Yaroomba and Maroochydore (far northeast), Caboolture (central east, north of Brisbane), Blackbutt and Kilcoy (northwest), Esk, Gatton and Laidley (central west), and Beaudesert and Kooralbyn (southwest). North Maroochy River at Eumundi, station ID 141009A, is to the west of Yaroomba. Brisbane River at Gregors Creek, station ID 143009A, is to the north of Esk. Bremer River at Walloon, station ID 143107A, is to the west of Ipswich. Logan River at Yarrahappini, station ID, 145014A, is to the north of Beaudesert. Albert River at Bromfleet, station ID 145102B, is to the northwest of the Gold Coast.
Figure R5 Key flow gauging stations along the main rivers within the South East Queensland region

 

Figure R6 Mean monthly flow along the rivers and mean monthly rainfall for the South East Queensland region

Figure R6 Mean monthly flow along the rivers and mean monthly rainfall for the South East Queensland region 

 

  • The seasonal flow characteristics of rivers within the region reflect the region's annual rainfall pattern, where most rainfall occurs between November and March.
  • Typically, the Albert, Brisbane, Logan, and Maroochy rivers have perennial flow, whereas the Bremer River may occasionally cease to flow.

 

Groundwater

  • Groundwater extracted from alluvial aquifers is the primary water source in the irrigation-dominated upland valleys of the region. In particular, the Lockyer Valley alluvial aquifer is primarily used for irrigation, and is managed under the Moreton Water Plan.
  • In some areas, groundwater is sourced from local aquifers for a variety of uses. The Cooloola Sandmass aquifer, which lies in the Mary Basin Water Plan area, is primarily used by Cooloola Shire Council for the Rainbow Beach town water supply, as well as for commercial and domestic purposes in nearby areas.
  • Groundwater resources in the Clarence–Moreton Groundwater Management Area, located partially within the region, form part of the Great Artesian Basin; however, Great Artesian Basin resources are excluded from this account.

 

Desalinated water

  • Desalinated water from the Gold Coast Desalination Plant can be used to augment the region's drinking water supply, particularly during weather events or interruptions to supply in other parts of the South East Queensland Water Grid.
  • The plant is capable of providing up to 133 ML of water per day at 100% capacity, but has primarily operated in 'hot standby' mode since December 2010 (three runs per fortnight, producing 5 ML per run). The plant is capable of running at 33% of capacity with 24 hours notice and at 100% capacity with 72 hours notice.

 

Recycled water

  • Class A+ recycled water is supplied for residential use (toilet-flushing and external use) and non-residential use (industrial use) in the Pimpama–Coomera area of the City of Gold Coast.
  • The Western Corridor Recycled Water Scheme, extending from Brisbane's southwest suburbs towards the city of Ipswich, was used to provide purified recycled water to power stations, fertiliser industries and potentially agricultural users. The scheme was decommissioned in 2015 and is now in care and maintenance mode.

 

 

Water systems

Urban water system

  • Water service providers, including the Council of the City of Gold Coast, Logan City Council, Redland City Council, Queensland Urban Utilities, and Unitywater, supply potable water to most residents in the region via the South East Queensland Water Grid.
  • The grid comprises a network of treatment facilities and more than 600 km of reverse-flow pipelines that move water between various sources across the region. Key components include 22 major surface water storages, 30 operational water treatment plants, six operational recreational water treatment plants and five groundwater bore fields.
  • A water pipeline between Wivenhoe Reservoir and Cressbrook Creek can be used to supply raw water to Toowoomba Regional Council if required.
  • In a number of 'off grid' communities within the region, drinking water supplies are not directly connected to the water grid. Instead, water is sourced and treated locally.

 

Farm dams

  • According to the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy, there are approximately 1,700 farm dams greater than 0.25 ha in area within the region, with a combined estimated storage volume of 59,080 ML.