Pioneer River

Pioneer River


Announced Allocations
High Priority A
High Priority B
Water Pricing
Read more about your scheme’s Fees and Charges

Scheme information


The Pioneer River Scheme provides a reliable supply of water for urban, industrial and agricultural users around Mackay and neighbouring districts.

How the scheme works
  • The major storage of the scheme, Teemburra Dam, is comprised of a main dam and Saddle Dams 1 and 2, located 60km west of Mackay
  • The main dam regulates flows into Teemburra Creek, whereas Saddle Dam 2 supplies water into Palm Tree Creek pipeline. The pipeline runs 1.8km and is about 180m lower in elevation than the reservoir full supply level
  • The primary outlet is located at Saddle Dam 2 and delivers water to the adjacent Cattle Creek Valley where the irrigation demand is located.
Water uses
  • Irrigation at Palm Creek and Cattle Creek
  • Urban water supply for Mackay and surrounding townships
  • Industrial

Scheme Management

Sunwater must comply with the conditions set out in the Pioneer River Water Supply Scheme Resource Operations Licence (ROL), issued to Sunwater in June 2005 by the Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water (DRDMW). The ROL outlines the infrastructure details, environmental release rules and all Sunwater’s monitoring and reporting obligations. The ROL also requires Sunwater to operate in accordance with an operations manual that is approved by DRDMW. The operations manual outlines rules for the operation of infrastructure associated with the Pioneer River scheme as well as water sharing rules and seasonal water assignment (temporary trade) rules.

The Pioneer Water Supply Scheme ROL Operations Manual was issued in October 2019.

Sunwater focuses our resources towards timely and cost-efficient delivery of water to customers in the Pioneer River scheme. We collaborate with our customers to ensure we understand their needs, adapt quickly to changes in the environment and make the most of the available water supply.

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:

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 Pioneer River 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).

Announced Allocations

Water Year: 2023/2024
High priority A: 100%
High priority B: 100%

Announced Allocations effective 1 July 2023 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

Teemburra Dam Water Level Classification

As required under s13(2)(c) of the Pioneer River WSS Operations Manual:

Teemburra Dam Storage LevelStage Effective Date
289.93m AHD11 July 2023
290.048m AHD11 August 2023
289.967m AHD11 September 2023
289.849m AHD11 October 2023
289.550m AHD11 November 2023
289.149m AHD11 December 2023
289.293m AHD11 January 2024
289.850m AHD11 February 2024
290.125m AHD11 March 2024
290.042m AHD11 April 2024
290.023m AHD11 May 2024
290.022m AHD11 June 2024

History of Announced Allocations
Pioneer River

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 July 2023

Operational Report

effective 1 July 2022

Operational Report

effective 1 July 2021

Operational Report

effective 1 July 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.

We have updated the naming convention for S&PPs to improve clarity and alignment with plan content. The new convention references the year in which the S&PP is published (or should have been published). Publication should occur within six months of the end of a financial year.

For further information about this service, please visit the Service and Performance Plan page.

Pioneer Bulk Supply

2023 Service and Performance Plan

Pioneer Bulk Supply

2021 Service and Performance Plan (originally published as the 2023 Service and Performance Plan)

Pioneer Bulk Supply

2020 Service and Performance Plan (originally published as the 2022 Service and Performance Plan)


Scheme history

Pioneer River at Marian Sugar Milly, Mackay District
Pioneer River at Marian Sugar Mill, Mackay District

Pioneer River Water Supply Scheme

The scheme supplies water for urban, industrial and agricultural users - mainly sugarcane growers - around Mackay.

It had its beginnings in the heart of the Pioneer Valley’s sugarcane industry at Marian, 24 km west of Mackay. In 1883, cane farmer David McEachran built a sugar mill and hired local girl Marian Smith to be a secretary. McEachran named the mill and its associated plantation after her, and subsequently the town that grew around it bears her name too.

Marian Smith’s name also lives on in the Marian Weir, built on the Pioneer River in 1952. The weir was the first building block of the scheme, which now includes Dumbleton Rocks Weir, added in 1982 and upgraded in 1993 and 1997, and Mirani Weir in 1987. The final piece to this sugar town story was Teemburra Dam, built on the creek of the same name in 1997.