Environment & Compliance

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Rockhampton Regional Council must comply with the current Environmental Authority (EA) in place which has been approved by the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection.

Environmental Goals and Objectives

Water objectives 

  • To ensure potential environmental impacts due to the operation of the water treatment plant and storage facilities are minimised
  • To achieve compliance with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requirements as specified in the EPA Licence
  • To achieve compliance with requirements of the Fitzroy Basin Resource Operations Plan.

Sewerage objectives

  • To ensure potential environmental impacts due to the system operation or non-operation are minimised
  • Discharge effluent at a quality that complies with EPA licence requirements and the recognised environmental values of the receiving environment
  • Control odour emissions from treatment plants and pump stations so as there is no impact on the amenity of surrounding areas
  • Minimise the amount of sewer system overflows/ surcharges.

Non-sewered areas objectives

  • To provide sewerage services to rural residential and urban areas where economically feasible
  • Consider medium term on-site effluent disposal in areas anticipated to be within future sewered areas where current connection to sewerage system is impractical.

Beneficial bio-solids and recycled water utilisation opportunities objectives 

  • To investigate bio-solids and effluent reuse alternatives to identify cost effective options that will provide positive outcomes for Fitzroy River Water, the community and the environment
  • To economically treat sewage and bio-solids to a standard that maximises their re-use potential
  • Minimise the environmental impact of dewatering and transport of bio-solids from treatment plants and provide beneficial use of the resource.

Management of the Fitzroy River Barrage

Rockhampton Regional Council is registered as the Resource Operations Licence(PDF, 504KB) (ROL) holder under the Water Act 2000.

In addition, a Water Supply Scheme Operations Manual(PDF, 93KB) was implemented for the Barrage by the Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water (RDMW) which meets the environmental flow and Water Entitlement Security Objectives set out under the Fitzroy Basin Water Plan.

The Operations Manual establishes the following:

  • Rules for operation of infrastructure
  • Water sharing rules
  • Seasonal water assignment rules

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 ROL 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.


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.

River Monitoring Project

A collaborative research project between Fitzroy River Water and the Cooperative Research Centre for Coastal Zone, Estuary and Waterway Management (CRCCZ) was carried out during 2001-2005.

The Fitzroy River estuary is an important natural feature of Rockhampton. The aesthetic and recreational amenities that it provides are highly valued by the community and the local government authorities. The CRCCZ was originally engaged on a major project on the nutrient and sediment dynamics of the whole Fitzroy estuary.

The ultimate goal is to develop a predictive model which can be used to explore different land uses and water management strategies in the catchment, particularly the consequences on the estuary. The project involves extensive measurements of nutrients, the light climate within the water column, sediment re-suspension and deposition with the aim to understand the processes controlling the physical and biological processes.

Fitzroy River Water’s involvement resulted from the desire to manage its operations with a proper concern for the environment and particularly the impact of its releases on the general ecological performance of the upper parts of the estuary (defined as stretching from the Nerimbera boat yard to the Barrage). To do this required a good understanding of the process together with reliable assessments of the scale of Fitzroy River Water's inputs compared with the natural inputs from the catchments upstream.

There were clear synergies between the objectives of the CRCCZ and Fitzroy River Water in understanding aspects of nutrient dynamics and the two organisations embarked on a collaborative project to intensify the data gathering work in the upper part of the estuary to address the specific requirements of Fitzroy River Water.

This drew on the more process-oriented work done by CRCCZ over the whole length of the estuary with results finding the sewerage treatment plant discharges having no discernible impact on the environmental values of the estuary.

It was found that background loads of the catchment and stormwater far exceeded that of the treatment plants and the natural processes of the ecosystem ensured it remained healthy and productive.

Bio-solids Reuse and Effluent Reuse Strategy

Bio-solids reuse

Bio-solids are the solid end product of the sewerage treatment process. Approximately 700 tonnes of  bio-solids dry solids are produced by the Fitzroy River Water sewage treatment plants each year.  Fitzroy River Water is collecting the bio-solids from its treatment plants and providing an access point from which local croppers with beneficial reuse approvals from the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection,  may access the bio-solids for reuse.

Effluent reuse

The sewage treatment plants at Mount Morgan and Gracemere both provide recycled water for extensive irrigation of public and private parks and land. The three treatment plants in Rockhampton treat sewage with the treated effluent discharged into the Fitzroy River estuary downstream of the Barrage.

Fitzroy River Water is constantly looking for further opportunities to provide recycled water for irrigation.  Currently under assessment is the provision of recycled water from the North Rockhampton sewage treatment plant to the Rockhampton Jockey Club and to nearby Cyril Connell and Norbridge Parks.  Also under construction is pipework to transport recycled water from the Gracemere sewage treatment plant to the Rockhampton Golf Club.

Drought Management Plan

Referable Dam Safety Emergency Action Plans

View the Queensland Government's map and list of emergency action plans for referable dams here.