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Unallocated water

Unallocated water is reserved under water planning instruments—it can be made available for future consumptive use without compromising the security of existing users or the environmental values within a catchment.

Types of unallocated water include:

  • general reserve—water that may be granted for any purpose
  • strategic or state reserve—water that may be granted for projects that the chief executive considers are of regional significance for the plan area or have been declared to be coordinated projects under the State Development and Public Works Organisation Act 1971
  • strategic infrastructure—water that may be granted to facilitate the development of particular water infrastructure projects (e.g. new dams) in the relevant water plan area
  • indigenous reserve—water that may be granted for projects that advance the social and economic aspirations of indigenous people.

For information on unallocated water in your area, contact the business centre in the relevant water plan area.

Current releases


The department intends to release by fixed price sale unallocated water held in general reserves in the Cloncurry and Gilbert Rivers on the 28 August 2017.

Details of community information sessions are outlined in the table. For catering purposes please register your interest by contacting the department by phone 07 4760 0750 or email

Cloncurry Cloncurry Community Precinct (Ernst Henry Function Rooms) Friday 4 August 2017 10 am - 1pm
Georgetown Georgetown Tuesday 8 August 10 am - 1pm

Fitzroy Basin

Tenders for general reserve unallocated water in subcatchment areas of the Fitzroy Basin closed on the 23 February 2017. We are currently assessing the tenders received.

Tenders are being assessed and offers made in a staged approach. This will be done in groups associated with the area of release. The groups are as follows:

  • Group 1—Callide groundwater management area, Highland groundwater management area
  • Group 2—Carnarvon groundwater management area, Upper Dawson sub-catchment
  • Group 3—Isaac Connors, Lower Mackenzie and Fitzroy sub-catchments; Isaac Connors groundwater management area; Fitzroy groundwater management area.

This approach will not extend the overall processing time.

Water for Queensland map

The water for Queensland map displays the unallocated water general reserve volumes of surface and sub-artesian water that is available in each catchment or management area across Queensland. The map also shows the unallocated water general reserve volumes of artesian water available in management areas of the Great Artesian Basin.

Previous unallocated general reserve water releases

This table shows key data about release processes that have occurred previously and which have been completed. In some areas only parts of the plan area have had unallocated general reserve water released.

Plan area       Release date       Water type       Volume available for release (ML)       Volume granted (ML)       Summary report      
Whitsunday 18/12/2015 Groundwater and surface water 28,500 1,700 Report summarising the outcomes (PDF, 727.0KB)
Gulf06/11/2015Groundwater and surface water264,550100,000Report summarising the outcomes (PDF, 1.4MB)
Great Artesian Basin 22/10/2015 Groundwater 18,200 1,780^ Report summarising the outcomes (PDF, 1.3MB)
Whitsunday 18/06/2014 Groundwater and surface water 28,500 0 Report summarising the outcomes (PDF, 904.7KB)
Great Artesian Basin 30/05/2013 Groundwater 7,200# 785 Report summarising the outcomes (PDF, 1.3MB)
Baffle Creek 21/06/2013 Surface water 11,600 633* Report summarising the outcomes (PDF, 2.1MB)
Gulf–Flinders & Gilbert 24/12/2012 Surface water 95,000 94,220 Report summarising the outcomes (PDF, 2.1MB)

^release occurred in 27 of the 32 management areas.
#release occurred in the Surat, Surat East and Surat North management areas.
*33ML was granted during the tender process with a further 600ML granted following the completion of the tender process.

  • Volume available for release refers to the amount of volume released during that process. For whole of catchment releases, such as Whitsunday, this figure represents the total amount of unallocated water available for release as stated in the relevant plan. For releases in sub-catchment areas this figure only represents the total available in those sub-catchment areas, as stated in the relevant water plan.  
  • Volume granted refers to the amount of water granted during the release. This can be less than the volume available if there is a lack of sufficient interest or if applicants were unable to meet the criteria for purchase of the water.


Last updated: 26 July 2017

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