Maroochy river catchment
  • Last updated:
  • 18 Apr 2019

The Maroochy River rises in the Blackall and Mooloolah ranges and flows through a variety of farmlands and rural towns. It then spills onto a large, broad flood plain dominated by canelands. Major tributaries include Petrie, Paynter and Eudlo Creeks and the North and South Maroochy.

More than half the catchment has been cleared for agriculture—especially sugarcane and a variety of other crops including pineapples, strawberries and ginger, as well as low intensity grazing.

Statistics and facts

  • 638 square kilometres total catchment area
  • 638 square kilometres within council region
  • 100% catchment within council jurisdiction
  • 20% council area
  • Council divisions 4,5,6,7,8,9 and 10
  • 3 Water Supply Storages - Cooloolabin, Wappa and Poona Dams
  • 4 Sewage Treatment Plants (STP)—Maroochydore, Nambour, Coolum and Suncoast which all discharge treated effluent via outfalls to the Maroochy River
  • Map of Maroochy River Catchment[1693KB]

Ecosystem health

Over the last decade, health ratings for the Maroochy catchment have ranged from a C to B- (fair to good condition) and have fluctuated between a C+ and a D+ (fair to poor condition) in the Maroochy River.

Maroochy's individual sub-catchments were also assessed in 2005-07 with detailed health ratings listed below:  

Land use

Land use within a catchment has a direct correlation to its overall ecosystem health. The land use in Maroochy consists of:

  • 31% remnant vegetation                                                      
  • 52% rural
  • 17% urban.

Some important tracts of natural bushland still remain:

  • The eastern section of Mapleton State Forest
  • The drinking water supply areas of the South Maroochy
  • Areas of Marcoola, Coolum and Peregian along the east coast
  • Mangrove forests in the low to middle reaches of the estuary

Catchment management

The impacts of land use, rural and urban runoff, and on-water recreational activities can affect water quality and ecosystem health. In Maroochy, catchment management is focussed on reducing these impacts through:

  • support for rural landholders to improve land management practices
  • promotion of a sustainable agricultural landscape
  • protection and conservation of remnant vegetation and wildlife corridors
  • rehabilitation of riparian (streambank) vegetation in freshwater creeks
  • prevention and rehabilitation of landslips
  • reduction of sediment runoff from unsealed rural roads
  • reduction of sediment, nutrients and litter in urban run-off 
  • rehabilitation of riparian and mangrove habitats in the estuary
  • protection migratory shorebirds
  • promotion of sustainable fishing.

Programs, projects and activities

Council delivers a range of programs, projects and activities in partnership with stakeholders to protect the natural values of the Maroochy River catchment. These include: