Mackay Wastewater Recycling


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.

Mackay, Queensland

Aerial view of Mackay South Bakers Creek water treatment plant

The completed Mackay South Bakers Creek water treatment plant

Photo: Mackay Regional Council

Australian Government Funding:$45,543,706

About the project

This project recycles most of Mackay's wastewater to better protect the Great Barrier Reef from 250 tonnes of nutrients entering the system every year, and protect and rehabilitate overcommitted ground water resources which are at risk of seawater intrusion.

Under the project an existing wastewater treatment plant has been decommissioned, wastewater is being redirected to an upgraded plant and up to 90 per cent of treated effluent will be used for irrigation in nearby sugar cane farms. This treated wastewater will reduce the stress on an overused groundwater resource. The project is a partnership between the Australian and Queensland governments and Mackay Regional Council. It is a practical on-the-ground water solution that will make a significant contribution to the outcomes of the National Water Initiative.

Mackay is a gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, the largest sugar producing area in Australia and a vital service centre for the mines of the nearby Bowen Basin. Water conservation measures apply to most of the city, and with a population growing at greater than the Queensland average, demands for water will continue to increase. It is forecast that the city's population will reach 120,000 by 2021. Tourism is also an important part of life in Mackay.

Aerial photo of recycled water irrigation dam

One of the Project's recycled water irrigation dams

Photo: Mackay Regional Council

This project is helping to protect the Great Barrier Reef, one of the natural wonders of the world, from harmful nutrients entering coastal waters near Mackay. This will ensure that current and future generations can continue to enjoy this magnificent reef system. Through wastewater recycling, this project is also providing benefits to local farmers, in particular sugar cane farmers, by reducing demand on groundwater by 8,500 megalitres per year.

This project demonstrates how water solutions can increase productivity while also servicing the needs of rural and urban communities and ensuring the health of our river and groundwater systems. It is the largest regional reuse scheme of its type in Australia.

The project assists in achieving the National Water Initiative outcome of encouraging re-use and recycling.


The project is now complete.