Acknowledgement of Country

The Cairns Water Security Stage 1 (CWSS1) project is being developed on Yidinji Country. Cairns Regional Council acknowledges and pays our respects to the Traditional Custodians of the lands covered by the project area, the Gimuy Walubara Yidinji, Dulabed and Malanbarra Yidinji, and Madjandji peoples. We extend this respect to all Elders past, present and future.

Council is developing the Cairns Water Security Stage 1 (CWSS1) project at Gordonvale to deliver a new drinking water supply to the Cairns community. CWSS1 is critically needed to service Cairns’ growing population and to build resilience into the existing water network. It is the largest infrastructure project ever undertaken by Council.

The project involves building:

  • a water intake at the Mulgrave River, near the Desmond Trannore Bridge, Gordonvale;
  • a water treatment plant and water reservoirs, on Council land located on Draper Road/Hickling Access, Gordonvale; and
  • a network of pipes to take raw water to the treatment plant and treated water from the plant to residents.

Flood protection works will be undertaken at Council’s Behana Creek intake as part of the project, to improve the quality and resilience of that water source. The existing treatment plant at Behana will be made redundant by the new water treatment plant being built at Gordonvale.

CWSS1 is needed to service the growing population of Cairns, which has more than tripled since the region’s main water supply, Copperlode Falls Dam, was built in 1976. With our population projected to reach 241,000 people by 2050, CWSS1 will augment Council's existing water supplies.

It is also critical for improving the resilience of the existing water network, to ensure that our drinking water supplies are not compromised by future severe weather events.

Years in the planning, the project was prioritised as a short-term supply initiative in the Cairns Water Security Strategy 2015 and confirmed as the best solution to Cairns’ immediate drinking water needs through a comprehensive independent business case process in 2021-22.

Community is at the heart of the CWSS1 project and Council is committed to involving Traditional Custodians, landholders, and the Cairns community in the project’s development.

Community engagement is expected to transition into contractor-led engagement and communications in 2024 as the project moves into the construction phase. Council will scale up its own engagement activities during this phase, continuing to build awareness of the project throughout the broader Cairns region and addressing stakeholder and community concerns.

Check this webpage regularly for details of upcoming consultation and engagement activities.

Members of the CWSS1 project team are available to give a presentation about the project to interested community and business organisations. Please email to find out more.

The CWSS1 project will deliver a range of benefits:

  • Improved water system redundancy
  • Support for regional economic prosperity
  • Local employment and training opportunities
  • Community health outcomes by maintaining clean water supply
  • Social stability through the provision of a consistent and reliable drinking water supply to the Cairns region
  • Sustainable liveability and public amenity.
  • Increased cultural and water education opportunities

At Council's Ordinary meeting held 21 December 2023, Council awarded the $325.5 million CWSS1 Design and Construct Contract to John Holland Queensland Pty Ltd, following a rigorous 12+ month procurement process. Council will now work with JHQ to develop a detailed project design, with construction to commence in mid-2024, and project completion in 2026.

For more information

Learn about the Cairns Water Security Stage 1 project

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Contact Us

For all enquiries about the Cairns Water Security Stage 1 project:

Phone 1300 69 22 47