WaterSmart Strategy

The goal of the WaterSmart Strategy is to make Brisbane a water smart city, to support the liveability of our city by managing water sustainably. The strategy builds on Brisbane City Council's first integrated water strategy, released in 2005, and takes Brisbane one step closer to becoming Australia's most sustainable and livable city. The strategy was published in 2010.

The WaterSmart Strategy outlines Council's policies on urban water management and how best to face the challenges of increased population, more demands on our open space and parklands, changes to our climate and the quality and condition of our infrastructure. We need to be more conscious of our use, reuse and care of water and waterways in response to these challenges.

Brisbane must become a water smart city to ensure:

  • our waterways are healthy for future generations
  • our water resources and systems are sustainable
  • buildings, public spaces, roads and services demonstrate designs with water and flood risk in mind
  • Brisbane's community is connected to water and takes actions to manage water sustainably.


You can download the strategy in full:

* Parts of the PDF document may be inaccessible to website assistive technologies. For assistance, phone Council on 07 3403 8888.


There are four goals at the core of the strategy:

  1. A water smart community that celebrates water, is well-informed and makes decisions with water in mind.
  2. Well-designed subtropical city which embraces its waterways and is shaped by the natural movement of water.
  3. A healthy river and bay which are resilient and able to adapt to pressures and change.
  4. Sustainable water use so we have what we need now and for future generations.

Water Sensitive Cities

To help achieve our WaterSmart vision, Council is participating in the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) - Water Sensitive Cities. Brisbane City Council joins over 80 like-minded organisations looking for practical and innovation solutions and mechanisms to make towns and cities more water sensitive. With a research budget in excess of $100 million, research will guide capital investments of more than $100 billion by the Australian water sector and more than $550 billion of private sector investment in urban development.

More information

Watch a video on Brisbane's cultural perspectives on the importance of water. You can also view this video on Council's YouTube account.

Video transcript

Uncle Nurden Serico: As a youngster, I lived on the water, over at Bardon, on Ithaca Creek, and spent all our time on the creeks. We caught a lot of fish. We, virtually, all our fish we ever caught was, we ate, most of it from the creeks around the place, beautiful big fish.

Bo Feng: I had a good memory of the river so because we’re used to fish, swim in the river and now it’s just, just like, polluted.

Magdalena Kuyang: Inside Sudan, most of the water source was the bore hole.

Aunty Ruth Link: Kedron Brook was beautiful then. We used to swim in it. Mummy used to wash in it. Mum used to get mussels from it and cook them for us.

Uncle Kevin Bond: But we had what they call doomus. And even if you had a big pool of water there, you dig a doomus there ‘cause that the sand or the material in between in it act like a filter.

Litiana Kuridrani: So we would play in the river from Monday to Sunday. Our only limitation for Sunday that we have to go to church. But other than that, it’s where we are most of the time.

Archana ‘Jolly’ Singh: I’d never seen the sea till much later. And the only water that we were really exposed to was the water in the house, which was running tap water or we used to have, maybe a small pond or a lake somewhere, which was always a great treat because they’d be things like lotus flowers and bird life that we weren’t really very familiar with otherwise.

Uncle Joseph William Kirk: Um, Breakfast Creek, Brisbane River and all the gullies were very important to my ancestors here. I mean before, you know, white settlement came, we had a nice, we had a nice gully running right along Victoria Park past the general hospital. That was a gully full of wildlife.

Anthony Lin: In the Buddhist ceremony for funeral, you’ll see a monk raising a bowl and pouring waters into the bowl and deliberately causing the water to flow into excess, out of the bowl. And that’s when the monk would say this is natural because you have moved beyond; therefore, you passed away. It is only natural so you shouldn’t harbour any sadness or resentment.

Aunty Valda Coolwell: Water is very important because it’s, forms boundary. It’s a different, tribal boundaries, you know, the rivers.

Uncle Nurden Serico: Well, water, spiritually, it contained, it contained our water spirits, and Dala, which is the lung fish is, is sacred to the Gubbi Gubbi.

Archana ‘Jolly’ Singh: As I said, after every kind of ceremony at home or any kind of prayers, there’s always, ah, some sort of water that’s given to people, just as a blessing.

Uncle Joseph William Kirk: If they told you not to go down to that water hole that uh, jun jurri was there, it was about a discipline. It was about things could happen to you if you go there, you could drown there or things like that, unsupervised. If your parents weren’t with you.

Magdalena Kuyang: Our elders are, you know, called or invited and then they’re sprinkle all the water. They say things, say what, they say things like: If this illness is because of, I don’t know, this, because of this, um, let it go.

Anthony Lin: Water, while it’s wonderful, if used properly, but in the wrong hands, or mismanaged, can cause disasters.

Magdalena Kuyang: And we really need to keep reminding our kids, our families, that, you know, ah, use water carefully, don’t waste it, and ah, make sure that you kind of, I don’t know if that is the right word, economize the water.

Archana ‘Jolly’ Singh: So, I guess, it connects you a little bit more with your environment when you actually interact with the rivers and the sea.

Uncle Kevin Bond: Water very important to the Murray people. Preserving it and all that. And the amount of waste you see, it’s unreal. I can’t get over it.

Uncle Joseph William Kirk: If you looked after the water when it came down out of the sky on whatever land you had, it’s gotta run somewhere. So you’ve got to look after that, that water, that rain water that falls before it gets to the creak.

Uncle Nurden Serico: We’ve got to treat it as a precious commodity, more precious than gold, really. 

Magdalena Kuyang: I really respect our water and, in, ah, Uganda where, where I lived before I came to Australia, they normally write: Water is life. And that’s very true. I love, I like that one. Water is life so we must respect water and, and make sure that it is always, you know, protected.

For more information about the WaterSmart Strategy, email the project team.

Last updated: 20 October 2020

Brisbane City Council acknowledges this Country and its Traditional Custodians. We pay our respects to the Elders, those who have passed into the dreaming; those here today; those of tomorrow.