Overview - An Island is not an Island: A Green Precinct in the Great Barrier Reef


On 21 September 2015, responsibility for water policy and resources was transferred to the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources - Administrative Arrangement Order made on 21 September 2015.

This website will be updated to reflect these changes.

Wide Bay Water Corporation

Funding $1 290 000
Location Hervey Bay and Heron Island, Queensland
Estimated annual savings Water: 5 million litres
Energy: 670 000 kilowatt hours
CO2 emissions: 187 tonnes
Heron Island

Heron Island

Photo: A Fox

The title and concept of this project was inspired by Alfred Russell Wallace, whose pioneering work on climate change in the early 20th Century recognised that an island emitting greenhouse gases 40 kilometres off the mainland could pollute just as much as a factory in an urban centre.

This project aims to reduce the environmental impact of Heron Island's three tenants - Heron Island Resort, the University of Queensland's research station and the Queensland Parks and Wildlife ranger station.

As the site is not on the electricity grid, the island's energy needs are produced through four 250 kilowatt diesel generators.

The project's ultimate aim is to achieve energy and water savings sufficient enough to run only one or two of the generators for a significant amount of time each day and reduce the island's environmental impact.

Key initiatives

Key initiatives of the project include:

  • installing new desalination technology to reduce the power requirement for water production by an estimated 60 per cent
  • retrofitting existing water facilities on the Island with the latest WELS and Smart WaterMark recommendation fittings
  • a major pipe replacement program including replacing leaking pipes within the Island's water reticulation system
  • improving the efficiency of the solar hot water systems for two of the island's resident
  • installing three solar arrays, totaling more than 100 kilowatt in capacity, including one at the Wide Bay Water Park as part of the educational and promotional program.


Water and energy efficiency programs are being undertaken by all three of the island's residents including the Heron Island Resort, Department of Environment and Resource Management's Rangers Station, and the University of Queensland's Heron Island Research Station.

The water improvements include:

  • retrofitting water fixtures on the island with 7.5 L/min devices on showers, 6 L/min on hand basin taps, and 9 L/min on all common area (kitchens etc) taps
  • replacing drinking water and wastewater meters on the island in a partnership with Heron Island Resort
  • finding and fixing leaking taps across the island.

The energy improvements at the Heron Island Resort include installing:

  • energy management controllers on air conditioners installed in staff areas
  • more efficient LED lighting
  • improved controls in cold rooms
  • energy efficiency ceiling fans in all suites and accommodation units
  • replacing two 2.0 kW pool pumps with two 0.75 kW pumps.

A 54.6 kW photovoltaic solar array was installed on three of the research station's buildings. The 260 panels went live on 25 August 2010.

Community engagement

The project will highlight the benefits of reducing water and energy use in the vulnerable and unique environment of the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef.

The project will engage not only visitors and residents of Heron Island, but provide a sustainability model to the Great Barrier Reef region and the wider tourism industry.

Wide Bay Water Corporation has undertaken detailed discussions and site visits with the Fraser Coast Anglican College science department. The two will work closely together to develop an educational program and presentations. It is anticipated that the program will be extended to the general public in the near future.

Further information