Understand your Catchment

Understand your Catchment

What is a catchment?

The land around your local dam is called ‘the catchment’ and it plays a crucial role in how quickly a dam fills as a result of ‘inflows’; water that flows into the dam.

Each catchment is different depending on the lay of the land. Some catchments are smaller and have lots of hills or mountains and others are large and flat with wide floodplains.

How does a catchment work?

It’s important to understand your catchment, especially here in Queensland where it can rain a lot.

All bodies of water and water courses within a catchment have a capacity. Inevitably, when a catchment including many different creeks and streams receives a lot of rain and meets its capacity, the water bodies and water courses within the catchment overflow. When they do, the excess water can impact on adjoining infrastructure such as roads, train lines and, of course, towns and cities. They are not designed to provide downstream flood mitigation, so although a community may live downstream of a dam, the runoff they may receive can come from various water bodies within a catchment, not just the dam.

This is why it’s important to know where you live within your catchment and where and how water flows, especially if you live near a water course or near the floodplain.

It’s important to note that Sunwater dams are designed to hold and supply water to irrigate crops, keep industry moving and provide drinking water, they are not designed to provide downstream flood mitigation. 

Is living near water bodies or water courses dangerous?

Water bodies within a catchment are critical to our way of life. Dams help store drinking water, rivers provide transportation options, lakes and dams can be great places for recreational activities and residential water tanks help keep gardens green in drought.

Any body of water can be dangerous — whether in a flood or not so it’s important to understand how rain in your catchment can impact the water bodies and water courses near you.

Many councils provide access to flood maps which help identify the chance of flooding on rural and agricultural land and even evacuation routes in the case of a flood event. View the flood maps here.

Sunwater resources

To further prepare you for the wet season, Sunwater has created the following resources:

Print these resources or keep them handy on your device for the upcoming wet season.