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Protecting catchments

Discover how we're protecting our catchments, and how you can play your part.

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Protecting our catchments

Our Gold Coast catchments feed into a variety of water environments that support diverse ecosystems, plus the livelihoods and lifestyles of Gold Coast residents and visitors.

It is important that we value, protect and restore these catchments and waterways. This will ensure they continue to provide a healthy and sustainable future for our ecosystems, the community and the economy.

The map below reports on the monitoring and actions which the City undertakes to achieve its waterway vision.


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Navigate the map above by clicking on the blue marks to display the data collected at the site. Refer to the Waterways monitoring page to understand the testing which is completed. For information on terms of use of the data displayed in the map above please refer to the City’s Terms of Use.

What is a catchment?

A catchment is an area with a natural boundary. Examples of natural boundaries include ridges, hills or mountains. Here, all surface water drains to a common channel to form rivers or creeks. Smaller catchments combine to make larger catchments. They form tributaries to the main watercourse within the catchment.

The Gold Coast consists of both large and small catchments that host a range of water environments. These include:

  • groundwater reserves
  • creeks and rivers
  • lakes and wetlands.

The Gold Coast hinterland forms a natural boundary for most of these catchments. It provides diverse aquatic and terrestrial habitats. Features include fresh water springs, pristine fast flowing streams and waterfalls.

These streams and waterfalls develop into the creeks and rivers that flow towards the coastline. They flow through a range of semi-rural areas and mixed urbanised settings until they reach our coastal water environments. These environments include:

  • the Broadwater and other estuaries, with their stands of mangrove and salt marsh
  • the city’s vast network of constructed lakes, wetlands and canals.

Caring for our catchments

The Gold Coast’s catchments contain many impressive landscape features. They provide significant environmental, lifestyle and economic benefits to our growing city.

Our city is renowned for its waterways and waterfront residential areas. This includes the largest constructed canal network (over 400 kilometres) in the southern hemisphere.

All local catchments face pressures from different land uses, including:

  • increased urbanisation and associated stormwater pollution
  • agricultural uses
  • population growth
  • increased use of our water resources.

City’s Gold Coast Water Strategy 2019-2024 sets a vision for a sustainable future. This vision includes best practice management of the Gold Coast’s natural resources, including its catchments.

The primary river catchments located within the Gold Coast include the following:

Waterway projects

The City’s initiatives to improve the health of our waterways include:

Monitoring our catchments

The City coordinates an extensive city-wide surface water quality monitoring program. This includes the following:

Water Environment Monitoring Program (WEMP)

Our Water Environment Monitoring Program (WEMP) is a comprehensive monitoring and assessment program. It focuses on waterway health to support the management of Gold Coast waterways.

The aim of WEMP is to:

  • assess the health of waterways
  • identify issues
  • provide information needed to put actions in place to improve waterway health.

This program brings together

  • physico-chemical and biological results from the Sentinel Water Quality Monitoring and
  • City Flows monitoring (see below).

The WEMP is a key link for the City’s waterway management, planning and policy development.

For more information about water quality monitoring parameters visit Waterways monitoring.

Sentinel Water Quality Monitoring

The Sentinel Water Quality Monitoring program monitors water quality quarterly at over 50 sites across the city. Officers measure water quality manually. They use a sonde to collect a sample of water for testing at the laboratory. This monitoring supports the WEMP and associated management planning and policy development.

City flows monitoring - Nerang River

City flows - Nerang River

City Flows Monitoring Program

The City is undertaking a City Flows Monitoring Program. The aim is to understand the flow regime, threats, management responses and ecological value of Gold Coast waterways. It provides a hydrological assessment capacity. The bases of this assessment are best current approaches and available data.

The objective of the program is to develop a network of discharge and water quality monitoring sensors across the city. These sensors will deliver near real-time, continuous data to support the management of the city’s waterways.

Recreational Waters Monitoring Program

In 2011, Queensland Health recommended all local governments develop an enhanced monitoring program. The purpose was to assess and manage the risks to human health from recreational water use.

Under the Public Health Act 2005, local governments are responsible for managing public health risks. This includes water used for recreational purposes.

The City established a Recreational Waters Monitoring Program. The program identifies waterway-related public health risks including faecal contamination, cyanobacteria and algae. Where necessary, City applies appropriate management measures to mitigate these risks.

Investigative monitoring program

The City responds to issues which require investigation, including:

You can help identify potential issues. For more information on waterway health or to report a waterway issue contact the City's Catchment Management Unit.

Phone: 1300 GOLDCOAST (1300 465 326) or 07 5582 8211

Help improve the health of our catchments

We all live in a catchment, so can all play a part in protecting our water environments. What we do in our homes, backyards and rural properties makes a difference to the health of our catchments and their waterways, which ultimately flow into the ocean. Water really is everyone’s business.

Find out how you can play an active part in improving the health of our catchments and aquatic ecosystems. Visit the Watergum website.

More information

For further information and advice contact our Catchment Management Unit:

Phone: 1300 GOLDCOAST (1300 465 326) or 07 5582 8211

Related information

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