Water Security in Douglas Shire

Douglas Shire Council is taking vital steps to meet the Shire’s future water demand.

Douglas Shire Council and the State Government of Queensland prepared the Regional Water Supply Security Assessment (RWSSA) report in 2018.

This report indicates that, based on current average water use and projected population growth, the demand for water by the Mossman-Port Douglas communities will reach the limit of Council’s water licence from Rex Creek by 2025-2026.

Douglas is home to over 12,300 residents, with almost 60% living in the two main population centres of Port Douglas and Mossman.

With an average growth rate of 1.02% over the last five years, the population of Douglas Shire is expected to reach approximately 13,100 by 2025.

Port Douglas is the tourist gateway to the region and supports a majority of the 426,000 overnight visitors each year, along with 262,000 day visitors who come to experience the World Heritage Listed Daintree Rainforest and Great Barrier Reef.

Douglas Shire Water Security Strategy

The Queensland Government partnered with Douglas Shire Council to investigate and establish a shared understanding of the existing security of the communities’ water supplies and the capacity of the supplies to support future growth.

Arising from this partnership is the Regional Water Supply Security Assessment (RWSSA), which provides valuable information about the water supply security and a foundation for future water supply planning for these communities.

This RWSSA indicates that, based on current average water use and projected population growth, the demand for water by the Mossman-Port Douglas communities will reach the annual volumetric limit of council’s water licence from Rex Creek by 2025–26.

The demand for water for the Whyanbeel communities is not likely to reach the full council annual entitlement from Little Falls Creek in the next 25 years.

 Douglas Shire water security strategy – key components

Mossman River intake

Securing a second raw water extraction site in Mossman


Smart water meter program

Replacing the aging retail meter fleet with smart meters


Recycled water and re-use 

Expand Port Douglas recycled water scheme and implement Mossman Scheme


Education and Awareness

Community education and understanding of water security issues.


Leak detection and pipe upgrades

A program of leak detection and replace aging reticulation mains.


Mossman River Intake

Smart Water Meter Program

Port Douglas Recycled Water

Water Usage & Demand

Historically, the allowable take of water from Rex Creek has been reduced by the dry season, which typically extends from May to October, coinciding with peak tourism season and increased demand.

In recent years, hot seasonal weather has extended late into December.

View Current Water Restrictions & Intake Levels Here

Historical reliability of water supply sources


To manage water demand during periods of low water availability, Council imposes water restrictions to encourage a reduction in water usage.

Water restrictions have an impact on the hundreds of tourism-dependant hotels, resorts and short-term accommodation providers in the Shire, along with the landscaping and horticultural-based businesses that service them.

Securing long-term water security for the Douglas Shire is critical to attract private sector investment and social infrastructure, directly linked to new jobs and economic growth.

Council plays an essential role in providing and advocating for infrastructure that contributes to a healthy economic base from which the community and businesses can grow and prosper.

Water Demand Projections

Hydrologic assessments were undertaken to determine the capability of the water supply for the Mossman-Port Douglas and Whyanbeel reticulation networks to meet current and future water demands for the communities.

Water demand modelled: 

Mossman-Port Douglas 

  • Current demand – 4000 ML/a
  • 2026 – 4800 ML/a
  • 2041- 5800 ML/a


  • Current demand – 400 ML/a
  • 2026 – 500 ML/a
  • 2041- 630 ML/a

Based on the current average water use and the projected population, it was estimated that Council’s annual entitlement from Rex Creek could be fully utilised by 2025–26.

Water Intakes

Water Security Strategy

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