Waterways in Queensland

The Fisheries Act 1994 (Qld) defines a waterway as a:

  • river
  • creek
  • stream
  • watercourse
  • drainage feature
  • inlet of the sea.

Waterways can:

  • flow with fresh or tidal waters—or both
  • have permanent or temporary flows
  • be natural or modified (e.g. modified through the construction of drains, floodways or canals).

Waterways include any channels or pathways along which fish are expected to move, if they connect isolated bodies of water to other defined waterways during times of flow.

Waterways do not include isolated bodies of water where no connectivity exists.

Attributes of a waterway

A waterway must have at least 1 of these attributes:

Defined bed and banks

Waterways generally have defined bed and banks, however, can contain less defined sections that connect more defined sections during periods of flow.

Adequate flow

The flow of water needs to be sufficient to sustain basic ecological processes and habitats, and maintain biodiversity within, or across, the water channel. The adequacy of flow depends on the ecological function of the channel. Some waterways that connect to a fish habitat like wetland or waterhole may only need infrequent and short-duration flows to provide connectivity for fish passage.

Fish habitat at, or upstream of, the site

Most instream features provide habitat for fish during adequate flow conditions, or in pools during dry periods. The ability to provide constant or periodic connectivity to upstream and off-stream fish habitat is considered a feature of a waterway. To determine if this connectivity exists, you'll need to have some knowledge of fish species at the site and how they use their habitat, particularly in headwater streams.

Locate Queensland waterways

Use the 'Queensland waterways for waterway barrier works' spatial data layer to help identify the location of Queensland waterways.

Read the user guide, to help you understand how to use this information.

View and download the data layer via:

Although the spatial data layer can identify most Queensland waterways, it is only a digital representation of the site being viewed. The on-ground physical and hydrological attributes establish whether a feature is a defined waterway.