Water sources and supply

Cairns Regional Council Water and Waste currently extracts raw water from 10 locations, many of which are in pristine rainforest and untouched by human activity.   Once extracted, raw water is treated at Council's treatment plants and then stored in one of 76 reservoirs so it is "on tap" when required at homes, schools and businesses throughout the region.

Please view Council's YouTube site Water infrastructure for a technical account of water and wastewater infrastructure for professionals and specialist authorities (with subtitles).

Cairns water supplies

The Cairns community is supplied with water from Copperlode Falls Dam and Behana Creek. Water from Copperlode Dam supplies areas to the north of Cairns and the Cairns city. The Behana Creek source supplies areas south of Cairns as well as the Cairns city. This water is treated at the Freshwater Creek Treatment Plant at Tunnel Hill.

View the Copperlode Dam water summary report (PDF) including catchment information (volume available, spillway level and rain gauge) and daily intake water production for Freshwater Treatment Plant and Behana Treatment Plan.  Note:

  • Dam level is 100% full when spillway level is 0mm
  • Dam capacity is 38,400 megalitres (ML)

Water - at a glance

The Cairns region is under permanent water conservation measures. To view current restrictions, visit our Saving Water page.
  • User pays encourages water conservation – the less you use, the less you pay
  • A typical Cairns resident uses 284 litres of drinking water per day
  • Residential properties pay $1.21 for 1000 litres of drinking water
  • Commercial properties pay $1.28 for 1000 litres of drinking water

Southern rural water supply

Residents south of Aloomba to Bartle Frere and in the Mulgrave Valley receive water via small intakes (creeks). Treatment includes disinfection prior to being sorted in a supply reservoir for delivery to customers.

ZoneSuburbWater sourceWater quality report
Bartle Frere Bartle Frere Majuba Creek Bartle Frere [PDF]
Bramston Beach Bramston Beach Joyce/Worth Creek Bramston Beach [PDF]
Mirriwinni Mirriwinni Pugh's Creek Mirriwinni [PDF]
Babinda Babinda Frenchman's Creek Babinda [PDF]
Bellenden Ker Bellenden Ker Junction Creek Bellenden Ker [PDF]
Fishery Falls Fishery Falls Fishery Creek Fishery Falls [PDF]
Mountain View/Orchid Valley Mountain View, Little Mulgrave, Orchid Valley Little Mulgrave Mountain View/Orchid Valley [PDF]
Bessie Point Bessie Point Mick Creek Bessie Point [PDF]
Southern Aloomba, Bayview Heights, Bentley Park, Edmonton, Forest Gardens, Goldsborough, Gordonvale, Meringa, Mt Sheridan, White Rock, Woree Copperlode, Behana Southern [PDF]
Central Aeroglen, Brinsmead, Bungalow, Cairns City, Cairns North, Earlville, Edge Hill, Freshwater, Kamerunga, Manoora, Manunda, Mooroobool, Parramatta Park, Portsmith, Redlynch, Stratford, Westcourt, Whitfield Copperlode, Behana Central [PDF]
Northern Barron, Smithfield, Caravonica, Machans Beach, Holloways Beach, Yorkey's Knob, Trinity Park, Trinity Beach, Kewarra Beach, Clifton Beach, Palm Cove Copperlode, Behana Northern [PDF]

Recycled water

PDF File icon

Recycled Water Do's and Don'ts (673.7 KB)
Class A+ recycled water is approved for use in watering gardens, flushing toilets, car and boat washing, washing of houses and hard surfaces (external), filling ornamental water features and ponds, and fire fighting.

Refer to the wastewater management section for details on recycled water initiatives in the Cairns region. For further information on Council's recycled water policy please view the strategy and policy page.

Drinking Water Quality

Cairns Regional Council undertakes an Annual Review of the Drinking Water Quality Management Plan in line with the Water Supply (Safety and Reliability) Act 2008. The management of drinking water quality outlined in the Act aims to protect public health.

Included in the Drinking Water Quality Management Plan is a Register of high risk stakeholders which includes elderly and the immunocompromised. Cairns Regional Council’s Water and Waste Department are inviting those who believe they may fit into this category to apply for inclusion on the Register.

Sometimes the chlorination and filtration system may not be able to adequately filter and disinfect the water due to storm events decreasing the quality of raw water or due to unforeseen mechanical faults. This increases the risk of microbiological contamination. Cairns Regional Council’s Water & Waste department regularly takes water samples to test for waterborne pathogens and bacteria, e.g. E.coli and Cryptosporidium which can cause illness. If the supply cannot be guaranteed as fit for use, further testing is undertaken and a Boil Water notice is issued in consultation with QLD health.

Those who believe they may fit into this category are invited to apply for inclusion on the High Risk Stakeholder Register by completing the Contact Information Registration form ( PDF, 0.23 MB ).


If you have any further comments or concerns, please add them to the form or contact Water & Waste’s Quality & Compliance Unit on 1300 69 22 47 to discuss further.

More information

Last updated: 09 August 2019