Rockhampton Regional Council leads new project to protect the reef

Published on 24 October 2023


A new project seeking to assist emerging and existing irrigators in the Fitzroy Food Bowl in meeting their reef water requirements is now underway in the region.

Under the Queensland Government’s Reef Regulations and the Rookwood Weir Land Management Code of Practice, new and expanding agricultural irrigation developments will require individualised farm plans which articulate how nutrient, sediment and pesticides will be managed.

To assist new and existing irrigators, the Making Water Work – Reef Water Quality project has been launched, with local irrigators that require farm plans encouraged to apply through Advance Rockhampton.

This new innovative project, led by Advance Rockhampton, will focus on developing farm plans with irrigators free of charge as well as other tools and training to improve water quality outcomes.

The Reef Water Quality project will deliver the following:

  • Individual farm plans for local irrigators that meet the Rookwood Weir Land Management Code of Practice and the Reef Regulations requirements.
  • Case studies demonstrating how to improve water quality outcomes
  • Precinct wide sediment and nutrient plan accounting for new and expanding agriculture.
  • Tools and training for landholders to improve water quality outcomes in the Fitzroy Food Bowl.

Rockhampton region Mayor Tony Williams expressed the importance of the project, to protect the Great Barrier Reef for generations to come.

“The Rockhampton Regional Council as a reef guardian is focused on being a proactive environmental steward whilst advancing responsible sustainable development of agriculture in the Fitzroy Food Bowl. “

“Through Advance Rockhampton, Rockhampton Regional Council is proud to be stepping up to the plate to implement this crucial project.”

“The Advance Rockhampton team will be accepting expressions of interest forms for farm plans from now until the 17 November 2023.

Applying for a farm plan is easy, for new and existing irrigators an expression of interest form can be accessed or requested via the following methods:

The Making Water Work – Reef Water Quality project partners are Advance Rockhampton, Sunwater, the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) and the Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA).

“This is another fine example of all three levels of government working together for the betterment of the Rockhampton region,” Mayor Williams concluded.

Anthony Curro, Senior Project Manager of the CRCNA, emphasised how water development plays a pivotal role in the sustainable development of Northern Australia.

“It's very fitting that the largest river catchment in Queensland is leading this important work to demonstrate that development and healthy ecosystems can co-exist.”

“The Making Water Work program in the Rockhampton Region is set to significantly boost the value of agriculture while simultaneously enhancing environmental sustainability."

"This collaboration marks a fundamental shift towards unlocking the potential of Rockhampton's Fitzroy Food Bowl.

Department of Agriculture and Fisheries Regional Director Fleur Anderson has urged both new and existing irrigators to actively participate in the new project.

“This initiative is designed to enhance on-farm profitability and crop yields, all the while contributing to the improvement of water quality that flows into the Reef."

"As we anticipate the completion of Rookwood Weir and observe substantial agricultural water sales, it is imperative for the region and landholders to methodically advance sustainable agricultural development."

Background on Making Water Work

Rockhampton Regional Council through Advance Rockhampton in partnership with the Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA) and the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) coined the landmark program called ‘Making Water Work’ in 2019 thanks to an initial investment provided by the Department of Environment and Science for Communities in Transition.

Since its inception, Making Water Work has focused on developing the Fitzroy Food Bowl through planning for new and innovative agriculture that would better use the water within the Fitzroy River Catchment.

The multifaceted Making Water Work program is best summarised by five key projects:

1.         Defining a supply chain and development precincts vision.

2.         Visionary land use planning to facilitate development precincts.

3.         Mobilising strong water governance arrangements.

4.         Integrating nutrient, waste and energy streams in agricultural development.

5.         Achieving reef water quality requirements in new agricultural development.