How we manage water in the Gulf

As part of the review, we have a chance to reconsider how we manage water in the area.

The Gulf water plan sets the rules for allocation and use of:

  • water in watercourses (rivers, streams, creeks etc), lakes and springs
  • overland flow water
  • groundwater.

A total of 373,179ML of this water is currently allocated through entitlements.

The total allocation of entitlements in the plan © Queensland Government

Water in watercourses, lakes and springs

Most entitlement holders in the Gulf take their water directly from the watercourses. This is called unsupplemented water use.

In this region, the highest amount of unsupplemented surface water entitlements come from the Flinders River water management area. This is followed by the Lower Leichhardt River subcatchment and the Gilbert River water management area (see map of the Gulf catchments and subcatchments).

Unsupplemented water licences within the Gilbert River and Flinders River catchment areas are regulated as metered entitlement areas. This means that entitlement holders in these areas must have a valid water meter to measure their water take.

chart-unsupplemented-surface-water-entitlements.png © Queensland Government

There are two major dams–Moondarra Dam and Julias Dam–that supply supplemented water for urban use and mining activity. These dams are a part of two water supply schemes:

chart-supplemented-surface-water-entitlements.png © Queensland Government

Overland flow

Overland flow is water that runs across the land after rainfall, either before it enters a watercourse, after it leaves a watercourse as floodwater, or after it rises to the surface naturally from underground.

The Gulf water plan regulates the taking of overland flow water by limiting the volume capacity of any new storage, such as a dam or water tank (called ‘new works’ in the water plan).

If you’re building storage to capture this water, these rules don’t apply if:

  • it is for stock or domestic use
  • it is under 250ML (any purpose)
  • it is to satisfy the requirements of an authority under the Environmental Protection Act 1994.

Submit a works notification   (PDF, 332.0KB)to us if you already have overland flow works that can hold more than 250 megalitres and the water’s not used for stock or domestic purposes.

What do you think?

Do you think we should change the overland flow limit?

Tell us in your submission.


In some parts of the Gulf, groundwater is closely connected to surface water. Because they’re so closely interconnected, we manage them in the same way.

This means that any water user drawing from an aquifer that is under or within 1km of a declared watercourse will require a water licence to take water. This rule does not apply for water used for stock or domestic purposes.

We will be conducting scientific assessments to give us more information about groundwater hydrology in the Gulf. We will use this information as we consider any ways to better manage groundwater resources.

What do you think?

Do you think we should change the arrangements for managing groundwater in the Gulf?

Tell us in your submission.

More information

Last updated: 15 Mar 2024