Water sources in Queensland

Water service providers (including local councils) have a number of water supply options available when planning for secure water.

When water service providers choose water supply options, a mixture of infrastructure and non-infrastructure solutions (e.g. demand management) may be the most cost effective.

Best practice water supply planning also takes into account the environmental, social and economic impacts and benefits of water supply sources.

Conventional water sources

Water for agricultural, industrial and urban use has traditionally been sourced from surface or groundwater resources (e.g. dams, weirs and bores).

Dams, barrages and weirs

Dams, barrages and weirs are constructed barriers that hold water to provide a reservoir for water supply or energy production. There are approximately 68 large dams and barrages (over 10,000mL) and 261 small surface water storages across Queensland.

This infrastructure provides water to a large portion of Queensland's population for drinking, irrigation, industry and business.

Learn more about our water resources using Queensland Globe.


Many communities across Queensland rely on groundwater (i.e. using aquifers).

Water carting

Water carting is used by some communities to top up their supplies when they are low. This water is usually sourced from another town's treated water supply. Water carting is also important during drought for people relying on water from rainwater tanks.

Alternative water sources

Developing and accessing alternative water supplies such as wastewater, desalination, industrial wastewater (e.g. coal seam gas water), rainwater tanks and stormwater for non-drinking and drinking purposes can increase the diversity and overall security of supply.


Desalination is usually used to supply drinking water to communities that do not have access to other sources such as dams and groundwater. This includes mining towns, islands, regional towns and some of our cities.

As desalination is not dependent on rainfall, it can also be an important water supply for communities during drought.

Read more about the Gold Coast desalination plant, a valuable climate resilient source for South East Queensland.

Recycled water

Recycled water sourced from wastewater treatment plants or industrial wastewater (including coal seam gas water) is another climate resilient water source with multiple benefits when treated and used appropriately.

Uses of recycled water include watering parks, golf courses, agriculture and industrial use.

Recycled water into Wivenhoe Dam is a planned drought response for South East Queensland.


Stormwater harvesting and reuse includes collecting and treating stormwater locally for irrigation of sportsgrounds, parks and gardens.

Stormwater reuse schemes can also be used to provide industrial water and non-drinking water to homes for toilet flushing and outdoor water use. These systems can reduce drinking water demand, help preserve local waterway habitats and provide open space amenity for the community.


Rainwater tanks that collect water for outdoor watering, washing machines and toilet flushing can be used to reduce household water use by around 25%.

Water service providers should encourage their customers to learn how to maintain rainwater tanks.


Greywater from baths, showers and laundries can be used for garden watering. This can reduce pressure on the water supply system.

Water service providers should encourage their customers to read guidelines and options for reusing greywater.


General enquiries 13 QGOV (13 74 68)