Australian Natural Resources Atlas

Natural Resource Topics

Water resources - Overview - Queensland

Location map of SWMA Barron River

Basin & Surface Water Management Area: Barron River



The Barron SWMA has an area of 2138 sq km and is located in northern Queensland. The major towns in the SWMA are Atherton and Yungabarra. The Barron River is about 165 km in length and drains the eastern side of the Great Dividing Range and the Lamb Range. The major tributaries of the Barron River include Freshwater, Flaggy, Emerald and Granite Creeks and the Clohesy River.

The mean annual rainfall for the 50 year period 1920 to 1969 varies between 1000mm and 2000 mm.

The major storage on the Barron River is Tinaroo Falls Dam with a catchment area of 545 sq km , a capacity of 407000 ML and a mean annual run off of 309980 ML. The second largest storage is the Copperlode Dam (Lake Morris) with a capacity of 45500 ML and an annual run off of 56598 ML. Other storages on the Barron River are Mareeba Weir, Bilwon Weir, Koah Weir , Kuranda Weir, Kowrowa Weir, Mantaka Weir and Flaggy Creek Dam.

Water is distributed from the dam via a channel system to irrigation farms. The major water users of Lake Tinaroo are the Mareeba Dimbulah Irrigation Area and, the Yungaburra , Atherton and Kuranda Town Water Supply and the Barron Falls Power Station. Cairns City draws a significant proportion of its water supply from the Copperlode Dam.

Average annual water usage for the area, (1988/89 to 1997/98) is 77500ML.

Vital Statistics:

Area: 2,188 Km2
Total storage volume: 1,947,395
Total surface water use: 57,789 ML/yr
Development category: HIGH DEVELOPMENT
Mean annual run-off: 977,400 ML/yr

A four-class classification system was developed to provide a simple method to communicate the status of the use and allocation of Australia's water resources in relation to sustainable water management.

It is important to recognise that adequately quantifying a sustainable flow regime or sustainable yield and consequent operating rules is a complex matter. State, Territory and scientific agencies continue to develop and apply methods and measures for determining sustainable flow regimes and sustainable yields.

This categorisation provides a general guide only. Please refer to the State and Territory Overview and Technical reports for detail on the analysis methods used.

CategoryDevelopment status
1<30% Low development
230 - 70% Moderate development
370 - 100% Highly developed
4100% Overdeveloped

* Water use as a percentage of sustainable flow regime (surface water) and sustainable yield (groundwater)


Sustainable Yield:

No sustainable yield studies are available for this SWMA. A Water Management Plan is currently being developed for this SWMA.



No sustainable yield studies are available for this SWMA.

This SWMA has a high level of development. A Water Allocation and Management Plan is currently being developed for this SWMA to guide future development.

How saline are the surface water resources in the Barron River surface water management area?

No data were available about the salinity of surface water resources in the Basin / SWMA for the Australian Water Resources Assessment 2000.

Major water storages

Table: Major water storage areas:

Storage name: Capacity (ML)
Tinaroo Falls436,500
West Barron273,750
East Barron64,605
Walsh Bluff155,855
South Walsh17,885
Paddys Green A21,170
Paddys GreenB16,060
West Barron 101,460
Copperload (Lake Morris)44,500
Kuranda (Barron Gorge)1,500
Barron Falls788,400
Granite Ck.244
Mareebano data

Further Information


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