Water Security in Douglas Shire

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

Water Usage & Demand

Historical information and data about Douglas Shire’s water supply

Priority Water Projects

Water infrastructure projects will play a critical role in sustaining the regional economy.

Water Security Strategy

Mossman and Port Douglas regional water supply security assessment

Douglas Shire Council and the State Government 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.

Priority Water Security Infrastructure Projects

A New Water Extraction Point

Smart Water Meter Upgrades

Completed Projects

Water Treatment Plant Upgrades

  • Water Treatment Plants Radio Transmitter Unit and SCADA Upgrades
  • Mossman Treated Water Reservoir Relining Assessment.
  • Whyanbeel Water Treatment Plant New Residual Treatment Plant

Mowbray River Road Water Main Renewal

Replacement of the existing 80mm AC watermain with a 150mm PVC Watermain

Killaloe Transfer Station Water Main Renewal

Installed a new 280mm Poly Water Main

Newell Beach Water Main Replacement

Replaced 50 metres of 150mm PVC Water Main.

Craiglie Reservoir Roof Replacement

Craiglie Reservoir underwent a major upgrade involving new roofing system that features new columns, rafters, purlins and roof sheeting. It will also receive a new internal painting system and new chlorination piping.

In 2018, Council completed an audit of the reservoir and made an assessment that the reservoir needed to be upgraded. Council hopes to gain another 40 years life on the asset.

Council secured a 60% contribution in total project cost under 2019-2021 Local Government Grants and Subsidy Program (LGGSP).

Read more here. 

Port Douglas Water Supply Reservoir (Crees Rd)

At an estimated cost of $13.5 million, the construction of a new 20ML water reservoir in Craiglie completed in November 2018 was the single largest capital works project undertaken by Douglas Shire Council since de-amalgamation.

The reservoir is located on land in Craiglie off Ferrero Road which was purchased by Douglas Shire Council specifically for the water reservoir. This location is 53 metres above sea level which is significantly higher than the 6 metres above sea level of the existing reservoir in Craiglie.

The project included the construction of five kilometres of dedicated inlet and outlet mains and a new 640 metre access road.

Read more here.

Mossman-Whyanbeel Interconnector

Upgrading network to create an interconnection between Mossman-Port Douglas and Whyanbeel Schemes.

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.

As you can see below, Council has numerous projects and strategies in place to prepare the water network for increased demand.

Water Intakes

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.

Key actions identified for better water security include:

20ML Storage Reservoir

Water storage to increase reliability during severe weather


Additional extraction

Securing a second raw water extraction site in Mossman


Smart Water Meter Upgrade

Replacing the aging retail meter fleet with smart meters


Education & Awareness

Community education and understanding of water security issues.


Leak detection & pipe upgrades

A program of leak detection and replace aging reticulation mains.


Recycled water & re-use 

Supply recycled water to golf courses & explore re-use opportunities.


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