Water Sensitive Urban Design in North Queensland


North Queensland is Unique!

North Queensland has some of the world’s best freshwater and marine environments. From World Heritage Daintree River, the Great Barrier Reef, to Hervey Bay whale nurseries and everything in between. It’s unique climate can be challenging for water quality managers when allowing for tropical cyclones, droughts, monsoonal storms, seasonal dry, hot and humid conditions in WSUD basins. These climate conditions can presents issues for hydraulic design of water retention basins. It can also present issues for plant survival including drought and waterlogging.







Where can you find local information?

Water by Design has developed a number of resources to help WSUD designers and stormwater engineers that can be applied right across the state.

Bioretention Technical Design Guideline  – in NQ saturated zones within the base of the bioretention basin can help prolong vegetation during the hot / dry periods.

Wetland Technical Design Guideline  – NQ needs to pay special attention to designing for weed control. In the dry tropics preserving the plants over the dry winter months with possible supplemental irrigation may need consideration.

MUSIC Modelling Guideline – Whitsunday Shire Council commissioned specific runoff parameters to use for water quality modelling. These are available in the appendix of the MUSIC Guideline. Check with your local Council for any locally recommended parameters.

WSUD Plant database  – Choosing local endemic species will increase the chances of plant survival in our water quality treatment basins. Water by Design has provided plant lists for major climate zones across the state.

Water Wise Street Tree (WWST) Sizing Guide – The WWST sizing guide provides optimal catchment sizes for various climate zones across the state.







Driving best practice in North Queensland – Reef Urban Stormwater Management Group (RUSMG)

RUSMG began in 2009 to support the uptake of sustainable urban water management practices to help reduce the impact that runoff from urban areas have on water quality in the Great Barrier Reef.

The vision of RUSMG is:

“Healthy catchments, waters and aquatic ecosystems”.

RUSMG membership includes local governments, LGAQ, GBRMPA and the Department of Environment and Science. RUSMG provides strategic oversight and advice regarding the direction of the Water by design Program. This includes activities that supports RUSMG outcomes such as research, developing professional capacity, improving organisational systems and supporting uptake and application of practices through workshops, field days, and the development of resources such as guidelines and tools.







Recent Water by Design activity in North Queensland:

Water by Design regularly visits local councils in North Queensland holding seminars and training days. Recent activity includes:

  • RUSMG – Community of Practice Meetings
  • LGA Embedding
  • Emerging Technology Training
  • CoDesign Workshops – Yeppoon, Innisfail, Mackay, Townsville, Gladstone, Rockhampton

Please refer to our Events Page or follow our Linked In channel for public event listings. Or get in touch to arrange group training sessions.







Exemplar projects along the coast:

Waterway Managers in Northern Queensland have undertaken many exemplar projects demonstrating innovation and ingenuity. Here are a few locally relevant case studies:

Wet Tropics – Cairns

Moore’s Gully  |  Zuni Bowls

Dry Tropics – Townsville

Louisa Creek  |  Gustav Creek

Central Qld – Mackay

Little McCready’s Creek

Central Qld – Rockhampton

Moore’s Creek Fishway

Please get in touch if you wish to supply a local case study worthy of mention





Gustav Creek, Magnetic Island


Further information from our partner organisations:

Terrain  |  Creek to Coral  |  Reef Catchments  |  FBA  |  GBRMPA


The Reef Urban Stormwater and Erosion and Sediment Control Capacity Building program is funded through the Queensland Government’s Investing in Our Environment for the Future Program and delivered by the Department of Environment and Science (DES)



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