Water sources and supply

The Cairns region is under permanent water conservation measures. To view current restrictions, visit our Saving Water page.

Water - at a glance

  • 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 $1.23 for 1000 litres of drinking water
  • Commercial properties pay $1.30 for 1000 litres of drinking water

Water sources

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 raw water is treated at Council's treatment plants and then stored in our 76 reservoirs.

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

Copperlode Falls Dam

Copperlode Falls Dam has a total capacity is 38,400 megalitres (ML).

The Copperlode Dam water summary report (PDF) provides catchment information (volume available, spillway level* and rain gauge) as well as daily intake water production for Freshwater Treatment Plant and Behana Treatment Plan.

Report notes: when spillway level is 0mm, dam is 100% full.  All readings are are based on the previous day.

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.  Monthly drinking water quality results are available below:

ZoneSuburbWater sourceWater quality report
Bartle Frere   Bartle Frere [PDF]
Bramston Beach   Bramston Beach [PDF]
Mirriwinni   Mirriwinni [PDF]
Babinda   Babinda [PDF]
Bellenden Ker   Bellenden Ker [PDF]
Fishery Falls   Fishery Falls [PDF]
Mountain View/Orchid Valley   Mountain View/Orchid Valley [PDF]
Bessie Point   Bessie Point [PDF]
Southern   Southern [PDF]
Central   Central [PDF]
Northern   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: 01 July 2020