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Protecting catchments

Discover how we're protecting our catchments, and how you can play your part.

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Protecting catchments

Gold Coast hinterland creek

Our Gold Coast catchments feed into a variety of water environments that not only support diverse ecosystems, but also the livelihoods and lifestyles of Gold Coast residents and visitors.

It is important that we value, protect and restore these catchments and waterways to ensure they continue to provide a healthy and sustainable future for our ecosystems, the community and the economy.

Find out more about our catchments below.

What is a catchment?

A catchment is an area with a natural boundary (for example ridges, hills or mountains) where all surface water drains to a common channel to form rivers or creeks. Larger catchments are made up of smaller catchments, which form tributaries to the main watercourse within the catchment.

The Gold Coast consists of large and small catchments hosting a range of water environments, including groundwater reserves, creeks and rivers, lakes and wetlands, all of which eventually flow into the ocean. The Gold Coast hinterland forms a natural boundary for most of these catchments, which provide diverse aquatic and terrestrial habitats, and feature fresh water springs, pristine fast flowing streams and waterfalls.

These streams and waterfalls ultimately develop into the creeks and rivers that flow towards the coastline through a range of semi-rural areas and mixed urbanised settings until they reach our coastal water environments. These include the Broadwater and other estuaries, with their stands of mangrove and salt marsh, as well as the city’s vast network of constructed lakes, wetlands and canals.

Gold Coast catchment areas

Monitoring our waterways

The City responds to issues which require investigation including:

The identification of potential issues is aided by the involvement of the community who act as citizen surveyors having eyes and ears on the ground. For more information on waterway health or to report a waterway issue contact the City's Catchment Management Unit on 1300 GOLDCOAST (1300 465 326) or 5582 8211 or by emailing

Research and development

City of Gold Coast's Catchment Management Unit undertakes and supports research and development programs that examine these relationships so that the best environmental solutions can be applied that are innovative, practical and adaptive. Our research and development programs feed into the following services:

  • innovative approaches to environmental education, awareness and behavioural change
  • waterways and riparian restoration and habitat conservation management
  • innovative and adaptive environmental management approaches
  • tailored evaluation, monitoring and compliance of ecosystem health
  • water quality monitoring programs
  • aquatic flora and fauna monitoring programs
  • community capacity building in waterway management
  • assuring best practice design and quality assurance in all approaches.

The Catchment Management Unit also supports Griffith University under the ‘Industry Affiliates Program (IAP) which helps to integrate undergraduate and postgraduate students into the workplace. Each year we select marine science students to assist us in research that evaluates the condition of our coastal receiving waters such as the Broadwater, mangrove habitats and estuaries.

Below are examples of research and development programs undertaken by the Catchment Management Unit:

The following research reports are in draft and will be made available to the public upon completion:

  • Southport Broadwater Parklands Mangrove and Seagrass Habitat Project
  • Southport Broadwater Parklands - Condition of sediment and the associated fauna report
  • Southport Broadwater Parklands - Growth and condition of the planted mangroves (including nutrients and pollutant uptake) report.
  • Protecting Gold Coast Beaches: using coastal wetland habitat to improve water quality (published in Wetlands Australia Tourism - Urban Wetlands)

Low flows in Gold Coast rivers

Low flows play a key role in maintaining the health of aquatic habitats during dry times such as a drought. Learn more about the current impacts of low flows on the Gold Coast and what you can do.

Help improve the health of our catchments

We all live in a catchment, so can all play a part in protecting our water environments. What we do in our homes, backyards and rural properties makes a difference to the health of our catchments and their waterways, which ultimately flow into the ocean. Water really is everyone’s business.

Find out how you can play an active part in improving the health of our catchments and aquatic ecosystems by visiting the Gold Coast Catchment Association Inc. website.

More information

For further information and advice contact our Catchment Management Unit on 1300 GOLDCOAST (1300 465 326) or
07 5582 8211.

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