Flood Flows: Importance For Waterway Health

The floods in March 2018 produced a recording of over 3.5 million litres of water per second at Myola gauging station on the Barron River. Not only did this create spectacular waterfalls, but it also benefits our downstream estuaries.

After several years of below average rainfall, we've finally seen a return to more active monsoonal weather patterns with many rivers across the Wet Tropics becoming flooded.

Often when we see all this excess water flowing off the land to the ocean, some people see it as a waste, thinking that it could be captured in dams for future use. However flood flows are an important aspect to waterway health and fishery resources.

Flood flows into our tropical estuaries is particularly important for recreational and commercial fisheries since the recruitment and production of species such as barramundi, king threadfin and banana prawns is boosted by the higher water flow.

The inundation of flood plains and areas that are normally dry creates improved habitat conditions for fish (more food, fewer predators), which results in an increase in fish populations.

The flow of water into estuaries is one of the key factors affecting their productivity and health so these flood flows have delivered a valuable boost to these habitats.

Ref: Bayliss P, Buckworth R and Dichmont C (Eds) (2014) Assessing the water needs of fisheries and ecological values in the Gulf of Carpentaria. Final Report prepared for the Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines (DNRM). CSIRO, Australia.


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