Management of the Fitzroy River Barrage

Under the Water Act 2000, Rockhampton Regional Council is registered as the Resource Operations Licence (ROL) holder by the Department of Energy and Water Supply (DEWS).

A Resource Operations Plan (ROP) was implemented by DEWS which meets the environmental flow and Water Entitlement Security Objectives set out under the Fitzroy Basin Water Allocation Management Plan (WAMP).

The ROP establishes the following:

  • Rules for operation of infrastructure
  • Environmental flow management rules
  • Monitoring requirements
  • Rules for transferring water allocations.

Water for the Rockhampton Region is sourced from the pondage area behind the Fitzroy River Barrage at a multi-level intake structure located approximately six kilometres upstream of the Barrage.

The purpose of the Barrage is to separate the fresh water from the tidal reaches of the river and at full supply level has a volume of 81,300ML with 21,900ML being dead storage and has an effective upstream limit of 115 kilometres Adopted Middle Thread Distance. This area, including tributaries of the Fitzroy River that contain water from the Barrage, has been declared in the ROP as the Fitzroy Barrage Water Supply Scheme and is the responsibility of Fitzroy River Water.

Additional to the domestic and industrial supply, commercial raw water allocations and water for Stanwell Power Station is sourced from the Barrage pondage.

Rockhampton Regional Council, as a ROL holder, is required to ensure the quality, quantity and reliability of water sourced from the Barrage is maintained at an acceptable level.

Regional water quality issues

The Fitzroy Basin has an area of 142,500 square kilometres and includes the catchment of the Fitzroy River and several major tributaries.

Rockhampton Regional Council as the last service provider on the Fitzroy River is very susceptible to issues such as salinity, land degradation, riparian habitat destruction and weed infestation, which are of concern throughout the entire catchment.

Fitzroy Basin Natural Resource Management Plan

As part of the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality, the Fitzroy Basin Association (FBA) has compiled a Natural Resource Management Plan for the Fitzroy Basin.

This plan identifies key environmental and social aspects of the catchment and proposes management actions aimed at either enhancing their condition or minimising the degradation of their values.

Fitzroy River Water has been involved in the formation of this plan and will promote opportunities to implement strategies that both directly impact on the Barrage and are also part of total catchment management principles.

Salinity

Department Natural Resources and Mines (DNRM) released a salinity hazard map for the Fitzroy Basin in November 2002, which shows that considerably more than half of the Fitzroy Basin has the potential to develop salinity problems over the next 30 to 50 years.

DNRM states that the area currently has fairly low levels of severely salt affected lands, but areas at high risk of salinity include land surrounding the lower reaches of the Fitzroy River to the west of Yeppoon, and around Rockhampton extending to the south and east of Bajool.

The salinity risk for the Fitzroy Basin is not as high as that of the Murray-Darling Basin, but DNRM claims it is significant enough to warrant early action. A noteworthy amount of land in the vicinity of the Barrage is indicated as a high hazard. Good irrigation practices and management of tree clearing in this area will be necessary for mitigation of the salinity hazard. This in turn will ensure the continued economic prosperity of this area.

It is important that Fitzroy River Water continues to participate with other stakeholders for the responsible management of the catchment through organisations such as the FBA and Barrage Irrigators Advisory Committee.