Nogoa Mackenzie

Nogoa Mackenzie


Announced Allocations
High Priority
Medium Priority
(Zones E-N)
Medium Priority
(Tartrus Weir Zones B-D)
Fairbairn Dam
Selma Weir
Tartrus Weir
Bedford Weir
Water Pricing
Fees and Charges 2020-2021
Fees and Charges 2019-2020

Scheme information


The Nogoa Mackenzie Scheme services the water requirements of Central Queensland communities, with Fairbairn Dam on the Nogoa River the main storage for the scheme.

From 1 July 2019 Fairbairn Irrigation Network Pty Ltd took over ownership and management of the scheme. Sunwater continues to manage the bulk assets, including Fairbairn Dam and the Nogoa River Weirs. Please refer to the FIN website for further information.

How the scheme works
  • The central feature of the scheme is the conservation of water of the Nogoa River by Fairbairn Dam, near Emerald
  • Water is diverted from Fairbairn Dam to two channel systems to customers via a network of mostly open-earth channels
  • The Selma Channel System is 47km long and supplies water to the left bank, west and north of Emerald
  • The Weemah Channel System supplies water to the right bank irrigation area east of Emerald and measures 53km.
Water uses
  • Irrigation water for cotton, citrus, grapes, wheat, pulse crops, sorghum, maize, lucerne, oats, barley and sunflowers
  • Urban water supply for Emerald, Blackwater, Bluff, Tieri, Dysart and Middlemount
  • Industrial water supply primarily for mining.

Scheme Management

The Nogoa Mackenzie Resource Operations Licence (ROL) published here requires Sunwater to operate in accordance with an operations manual that is approved by the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy. The operations manual states rules for the operation of infrastructure associated with the Nogoa Mackenzie scheme as well as water sharing rules and seasonal water assignment (temporary trade) rules.

The Nogoa Mackenzie Water Supply Scheme ROL Operations Manual was issued in June 2018 with version 3 approved on 26 September 2019. A statement of changes to the operations manual can be found on the second page of this manual.

Sunwater aims to achieve the efficient delivery of water to customers in the Nogoa Mackenzie scheme that best meets their needs.  To manage this water delivery, arrangements for taking of water within the Scheme have been developed in consultation with its Irrigator Advisory Committee.

Taking water from the scheme

The water ordering system assists Sunwater in delivering water to its customers in an efficient and timely way, enabling them to plan and manage their water use.

Before taking any water, customers should place a water order so that Sunwater can release sufficient water and minimise losses.

Customers who take water without ordering may reduce Sunwater’s ability to supply customers who have ordered according to the above requirements.

To place an order

Customers can place their orders via:

Further information about ordering water is detailed in Nogoa Mackenzie’s Rules and Targets.

Delivery timing

Orders are processed on a daily basis at 6:30am. Orders received after this time cannot be processed until the following day. Please make allowance for these times when placing your order.

The travel time, the number of hours/days it takes from the morning after the order is placed to get water from the dam or weirs to your pump, is:

Nogoa Mackenzie Scheme Area Travel time after order is placed
NOGOA – Fairbairn Dam to Emerald2 Days
RIVER – Emerald to Bridge Flats3 Days
Bridge Flats to Comet Junction4 Days
MACKENZIE – Comet Junction to Bedford Weir4 Days
RIVER – Bedford Weir to Bingegang Weir3 Days
Bingegang Weir to Tartrus Weir3 Days
Tartrus Weir to 10 Mile Waterhole3 Days
10 Mile to Springton Ck Junction5 Days
Stopping or restricting supply

Sunwater may suspend or restrict supply in a number of circumstances, including:

  • during maintenance of Sunwater’s assets
  • during a peak demand period, when rosters or rations may apply
  • when the demand for water is so small it is impractical to supply it
  • when there is a need to make special releases to maximise efficiency at times of limited supply
  • during rain shutdown
  • infrastructure limitations which make delivery impractical
  • if supply could cause Sunwater to break the law
  • when operating under special notices or regulations issued by the Department of Natural Resources and Mines {e.g. Water Amendment Regulation (No.3) 2006}
Weather events and emergency shutdowns

Sunwater asks that customers notify their duty Water Officer, as soon as possible, of any rain event or other circumstances that substantially lessens their water requirements. When wide spread general rain exceeds 40 mm in a day over the Nogoa Mackenzie Water Supply Scheme, the duty Water Officer may shut the system down.

Customers are also asked to cancel orders if they no longer require ordered water.

For more information contact

If you experience an equipment or power failure emergency, please give immediate notice to Sunwater by calling Sunwater Customer Support on 13 15 89 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week).

Nogoa Mackenzie’s Irrigator Advisory Committee

The Nogoa Mackenzie Irrigator Advisory Committee is a group of irrigators within the scheme that have been elected by irrigation customers to represent their interests in relation to scheme operations and water supply issues and improvements with Sunwater.

The committee:

  • provides advice and recommendations to Sunwater regarding scheme operational issues
  • represents the interests of the broader irrigator base in respect of Sunwater’s ongoing operation of the water supply scheme
  • provides a mechanism for Sunwater and its customers to raise and discuss matters of mutual interest in relation to the management of the physical aspects of the scheme and customer relationship issues.
  • work collaboratively with Sunwater to identify and introduce new approaches and improvements to water management
Committee members
NamePositionRepresentative Area/Section
Robert IngramChairpersonSection 1 – Selma Channel System. Fairbairn Dam to 13 mile
Neville BrownlieCommittee MemberSection 1 – Selma Channel System. 21 mile to End of Channel
Elmien BallotCommittee MemberSection 2 – Nogoa Mackenzie River System
Nigel BurnettCommittee MemberSection 2 – Nogoa Mackenzie River System
Carl (Neek) MorawitzCommittee MemberSection 2 – Nogoa Mackenzie River System
Matthew BarnesCommittee MemberSection 4 – Weemah Channel System. Fairbairn Dam to 34 mile
Les FluertyCommittee MemberSection 4 – Weemah Channel System. 34 mile to End of Channel
Paul WortleyCommittee MemberSection 4 – Weemah Channel System. Small Crop

Stay up to date with the Nogoa Mackenzie Irrigator Advisory Committee.

Announced Allocations

Water Year: 2020/2021
High Priority: 94% (previously 80%)
Medium Priority: 0% (excluding Zones B-D)

Announced Allocations effective 1 October 2020 and will be applicable until revised and communicated by Sunwater.

2019/2020 to 2020/2021 Carryover Parameters – Cap 25,000 ML with 37.435% pro rata and 9.6% 1st quarter loss factor. More information can be found here.

As the storage level in Fairbairn Dam is less than EL 194.11 m AHD and the Nogoa Mackenzie Medium Priority Announced Allocation is less than 30%, the triggers have been met for the commencement of Stage 1 Critical Water Supply Arrangements for Zones B to D (Tartrus Weir).

Medium Priority: 30% (Zones B-D)

Announced Allocations effective 1 July 2020 and will be applicable until revised and communicated by Sunwater.

Customers are advised to obtain information about their remaining water allocation balance by accessing SunwaterOnline.

For more information or enquiries, phone 13 15 89 or email

History of Announced Allocations
Nogoa Mackenzie

AA history

Operational reports

Sunwater releases periodic operational reports detailing Announced Allocation levels and individual storages’ breakdowns within each scheme, the latest of which can be found below.

Operational Report

effective 1 October 2020

Operational Report

effective 1 July 2020

Operational Report (Tartrus Weir)

effective 1 July 2020

Operational Report

effective 1 April 2020

Operational Report

effective 24 February 2020

Operational Report

effective 3 February 2020

Operational Report

effective 1 July 2019


Service and Performance Plans

Sunwater prepares an annual Service and Performance Plan (S&PP) for each irrigation service contract area. S&PPs replace the former annual Network Service Plans and annual Performance Reports.
For further information about this service, please visit the Service and Performance Plan page.

Nogoa Mackenzie Bulk Supply

2021 Service and Performance Plan


Nogoa Mackenzie Bulk Supply

2020 Network Service Plan

Nogoa Mackenzie Bulk Supply

2019 Network Service Plan


Scheme news

Bulletin and Feedback Form: Low Level Dam

May 2020


Bulletin and Feedback Form: Carryover

May 2020

Technical Attachment: Low Level Dam

May 2020

Technical Attachment: Carryover

May 2020

Information Bulletin

April 2020


Fact Sheet Carryover


EOWY Newsletter


Customer Update: Carryover

June 2020

Customer Update: Low Level Dam

June 2020

Customer Update: Customer Forum

August 2020

Customer Update: Customer Forum Update

October 2020


A short film showcasing the rich diversity of the region’s agriculture and the passion and innovation of its producers.
This project is jointly supported by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Central Highlands Development Corporation, the Central Highlands Regional Council and the Central Highlands Cotton Growers and Irrigators Association.

Scheme history

Ballad  of Nogoa Gap Scheme
“Ballad of Nogoa Gap Scheme” printed in the CQ News Emerald Centenary Souvenir edition, November 1979.

Nogoa Mackenzie Water Supply Scheme

Emerald gets its name because the area’s first settler, P.F. MacDonald, was impressed with the lush greenness of the district after rain. Water from the scheme, established in 1968, helps keep it that way today.

Irrigators grow a great variety of crops including cotton, citrus, grapes, wheat, pulses, sorghum, maize, lucerne, oats, barley and sunflowers.

Water is also required for industry, mainly mining in the Bowen Basin. The Blackwater Pipeline provides water to several mines and the town of Blackwater.

The scheme also distributes water to the communities of Emerald, Bluff, Tieri, Dysart and Middlemount.

Its major storage assets are the Fairbairn Dam on the Nogoa River and four weirs — Bedford, Bingegang, Selma and Tartrus. Water is supplied to both the river system and to customers via a network of mostly open-earth channels.

Local Management Entity Fairbairn Irrigation Network took over ownership and management of the channel distribution network in 2019, with Sunwater continuing to own and operate the bulk water assets, including the dam, weirs and pipeline.