Mary Basin water plan

The process to replace the Water Plan (Mary Basin) 2006 has commenced. We need to review the existing water plan and develop a replacement plan to address current and emerging issues within the water plan area in order for us to continue the sustainable management of water in the basin.

About the Mary Basin water plan area

The plan area (PDF, 2.0MB) is located in South East Queensland (SEQ) and includes the Mary, Burrum, Noosa, Maroochy and Mooloolah River catchments. The plan supports a variety of industries including significant agricultural production, a growing tourism industry and fisheries. There are also important cultural values which are reliant on water.

The Mary Basin contains important habitat for threatened species such as the Mary River turtle, Mary River cod, white-throated snapping turtle, and Australian lungfish, and is also a Great Barrier Reef catchment. Accordingly, water quality objectives and environmental values have been key considerations in developing the draft plan.

The plan area contains six water supply schemes supplying water for irrigation and urban water supply needs—these schemes are the Baroon Pocket, Cedar Pocket, Lower Mary River, Mary Valley, Teddington Weir, and Wide Bay water supply schemes.

The water plan applies to surface water, as well as underground water in the Cooloola Sandmass underground water management area.

Public consultation on the draft water plan

After more than 12 months of targeted engagement with local stakeholders to best understand the collective water interests, and completion of hydrologic (including climate change), environmental, socioeconomic and cultural technical assessments, we’ve released a draft replacement plan and supporting documents.

These are now open for final consultation until 21 April 2023.

The draft plan  balances environmental and cultural needs with water security for current and future water demands.

Some key changes proposed to strengthen the new water plan include:

  • New economic, social, cultural and environmental outcomes and including outcomes for the Great Sandy Strait declared Ramsar wetland and the Great Barrier Reef.
  • Water allocation security objectives that will provide security and flexibility.
  • Environmental flow objectives with better hydrological linkages to environmental needs.
  • New Indigenous unallocated water reserves to support traditional owners achieve their economic, social and cultural aspirations.
  • Unallocated water reserve volumes to meet demand for significant projects, urban supply and promote regional development.
  • Amending water licences to provide security and certainty through improved volumetric specification, measurement and compliance.
  • Providing improved flexibility through the establishment of seasonal water trading arrangements.

Details of all changes proposed in the draft water plan can be found in the Statement of intent (PDF, 3.0MB).

Key consultation documents

View our draft changes spatially in the Queensland Globe.

The following technical assessments supported the development of the draft water plan and are available to download from our online library:

A copy of the hydrologic model for the draft water plan can be released under licence agreement by placing a request online at Business Queensland.

How to make a submission

Your feedback is critical to finalising these water planning documents to facilitate the sustainable management of water resources in the Mary Basin water plan area.

Submit your feedback on the drafts via the following methods:

  • Phone 1800 135 531 to discuss your feedback with a water officer from the department.

Submissions can be made until 5pm, 21 April 2023. Your feedback will be used to finalise these documents which are important for the sustainable management of water resources in the Mary Basin water plan area.

Consultation with stakeholders

Early and ongoing engagement is a critical component in the review and development of the replacement water plan. We are engaging with people to help the community understand the water plan development process, discuss issues and opportunities, and ultimately improve the plan itself.

Engagement provides the opportunity to draw on people’s collective knowledge, and to build collaborative support and involvement in the water planning process. We believe that through active, genuine and cooperative engagement we will achieve a sustainable water plan for the Mary Basin.

How we are engaging and communicating

A targeted engagement strategy is being used by the department during development of the replacement water plan to:

  • enable more detailed, focused and efficient discussion of matters that were identified in the Preliminary Public Consultation Notice and submissions received on this notice with relevant stakeholder groups
  • provide a constructive environment for collaborative stakeholder involvement.

A variety of engagement activities and communication tools are being used during the development of the replacement water plan, for example:

  • individual meetings with stakeholder groups and communities
  • on country meetings with Traditional Owners
  • meetings during the draft water plan public consultation and submission phase
  • presentations at peak industry water engagement forums
  • website and social media communication
  • publication of technical and research reports.

Previous consultation activity

To inform the preparation of the draft Mary Basin water plan, a preliminary public consultation notice was issued in May 2021 by the Minister inviting public submissions.

This consultation closed on 30 July 2021, with 95 submissions received. Targeted consultation was undertaken with key stakeholders including water users, water supply scheme operators, Traditional Owners and other interest groups across the plan area.

Next steps

With the release of this draft plan, we will continue to engage with water users, Indigenous groups, environmental organisations, local and state government, water service providers, peak industry groups and the broader community.

A consultation report will be published following the release of the final plan which will provide further detail on the consultation undertaken, the issues raised and how the water plan deals with the issues.

The final replacement Mary Basin water plan is on track for delivery prior to the plan expiry in May 2024.

Further information

If you need any further information or wish to discuss the Mary Basin water plan with someone from the department, please contact us.

Find out more about water management in the Mary Basin area.

Last updated: 22 Feb 2023