Skip links and keyboard navigation

Catchment Action Plan/Resilient Rivers Initiative

Search fields


Council of Mayors South East Queensland (CoMSEQ), Queensland Government, SEQ Water, UnityWater, Queensland Urban Utilities, Healthy Land and Water

Latest documentation


Designed for use in

Queensland, Australia
Southeast Queensland Waterways, Moreton Bay



Assessment purpose

Condition, Management effectiveness, Policy, Processes and components

Assessment criteria

Socio-cultural, Management and planning, Ecosystem/habitat, Economic

Method type

Desktop, expert panel, consultation


Medium-long term – The South East Queensland (SEQ) Resilient Rivers Initiative Regional Strategy spans ten years (2015 - 2025) and it typically takes at least one year to complete a CAP and several years to complete the associated management actions.



Wetland system

Estuarine, Riverine

Description and method logic

Method purpose

The Resilient Rivers Initiative aims to improve the health of waterways and Moreton Bay by delivering more coordinated catchment management to protect water and keep soil on the land and out of the waterways. The initiative is a high-level collaborative effort to establish an investment in and management of the waterways of SEQ, building on existing efforts. It requires a good understanding of the movement of water in the landscape, clearly identifying and agreeing on high-risk areas, incorporating the values of the local community, coordinating on-ground action, and is developed on a catchment-by-catchment basis.

The goals of the Resilient Rivers Initiative are:
  • To promote partnerships with strong leadership to deliver a coordinated approach to catchment management in SEQ
  • To keep soil on the land and out of waterways
  • To help protect the region’s water security so it can support the current and future population of SEQ
  • To improve the climate resilience of the region.

The 2025 Outcomes of the Resilient Rivers Assessment Method, will be achieved through the development of Catchment Action Plans (CAPs) across the region and by implementing the high priority works in the Plans. Agreed targets and priority areas for investment will be established for each CAP, which will be underpinned by the best available science and assessment of the known risks.


Nestled under the Resilient Rivers Initiative are a set of CAPs that outline detailed priorities within a specific catchment. CAPs identify assets and associated services, threats, issues and impacts for a particular catchment. Assets are identified as being of regional significance, benefiting more than one local government area, and in the context of the four goals of the Resilient Rivers Initiative: Being affected by water quality, erosion and sediment, and/or extreme weather events (floods and storm surges), along with significant social, environmental and economic services.

The principles by which the CAPs are to be developed are as follows:

1. For planning purposes, the catchment is the basis of the management unit.

2. The CAPs include realistic and achievable short term (over 3 years) actions appropriate for each local catchment which collectively provide the critical implementation path to achieving overall regional economic, social and environmental objectives.

3. The CAPs are developed and delivered in partnership with government, industry, non-government organisations and the community. The CAPs build on existing plans including where relevant, existing local government plans, utility asset management plans and the SEQ NRM Plan with a nested approach to increasing localisation from river catchments to creek catchments. Key stakeholders from each catchment are involved from the beginning to build community and stakeholder ownership.

4. Where a catchment spans two or more council areas, the relevant councils establish a collaborative arrangement to align catchment planning, activities and investment. The lead council(s) ensures a strong community focus is achieved based on local community engagement to identify and address the specific local needs of a catchment.

5. The CAP provides a single investment decision point for the catchment to align relevant resources.

6. A sound scientific and adaptive management planning basis underpins CAPs and new information, emerging technologies and the effectiveness of implemented actions are incorporated to inform future actions.

Method logic

A five-step process is undertaken to develop a CAP:

Step 1: Walking the Landscape workshop to understand components and processes such as geology and hydrology.
Step 2: Catchment description and issues including defining assets, services, values and objectives.
Step 3: Risk assessment including targets and preliminary management actions.
Step 4: Prioritisation of management actions.
Step 5: Publishing including endorsement from collaborators.

Consistency in the preparation of CAPs across the SEQ region is desirable to allow for regional prioritisation of projects where appropriate. To achieve this, the following aspects of a CAP benefit in being consistent:

The final outcome is a CAP document for key investors and stakeholders of a specific catchment. A final CAP will be a strategic document, web-based, with reference to more detailed supporting documents where appropriate.

Criteria groupings of the method

Assets are catchment-based and can include:
  • Water supply, treatment and distribution infrastructure
  • Stormwater and associated infrastructure
  • Wastewater infrastructure
  • Transport and critical infrastructure
  • Economic hubs
  • Agricultural lands
  • Natural assets such as waterways, estuaries and other wetlands, core bushland and linkages
  • Cultural and social assets.

Each asset can have several associated services, for example the asset of an estuary can provide the services of fisheries (recreational and commercial), recreation, aquaculture, protection from storm surge and flooding, and biodiversity. Each asset can also have several threats, such as sediment, fish passage barriers and reduced seagrass in the case of an estuary. Other threats can include population growth, extreme weather events, and land use change, particularly urban footprint increases. Each threat can in turn have a range of issues and impacts.

Data required

  • Land-use mapping and other spatial data such as geology, wetlands, waterways, and vegetation
  • Conceptual models linking assets, services and threats
  • Expert and stakeholder information
  • Field data to inform and assess management actions
  • Threat data (e.g. sediment, fish passage barriers and reduced seagrass)
  • Assets data (e.g. transport and critical infrastructure, economic hubs, agricultural lands, water supply, treatment and distribution infrastructure, stormwater and associated infrastructure, wastewater infrastructure)
  • Catchment-based ecosystem services data
  • Hydrological data
  • Geomorphological data
  • Socio-economic data.

Resources required

Expertise required

High-level expert knowledge of catchment management, stakeholder engagement, risk assessment, management actions (on-ground works) and spatial analysis.

Materials required

Spatial and non-spatial data, a database platform for data storage, a Geographic Information System (GIS) platform for result presentation and interpretation, modelling software.

Method outputs


  • Catchment Action Plans
  • Catchment stories
  • Industry-led 'best practice' management programs
  • Business operating model
  • Catchment investment program with agreed implementation targets
  • Catchment-based conceptual models
  • Catchment-based risk register
  • Catchment-based risk maps.


  • Decision support
  • Inform management interventions
  • Prioritise targeted monitoring, and other management needs
  • Input to monitoring and assessment reports for SEQ
  • Threat characterisation and risk assessment assisting prioritisations.

Criteria by category


    • Agricultural lands
    • Economic hubs
    • Transport and critical infrastructure
      • Airports
      • Railways
      • Roads


    • Cultural and social assets
      • First Nations traditional sites
    • Wastewater infrastructure

    Management and planning

    • Stormwater and associated infrastructure
    • Water supply, treatment, and distribution infrastructure
      • Dams
      • Pipelines
      • Water treatment plants


    • Natural assets
      • Core bushland and linkages
      • Estuaries
      • Waterways
      • Wetlands


Recommended user

Local, State and Commonwealth government, catchment groups and other community groups, water utilities, business, industry, and other stakeholders.


  • Collaborative initiative that brings together a wide range of stakeholders
  • Easily understood by users with varying backgrounds, experience and qualifications
  • Flexible, can be applied to all catchments of SEQ and potentially other parts of Queensland
  • Based on an adaptive management framework
  • Catchment-based and holistic across the whole catchment
  • Stand-alone but can interface with other databases and types of data.


  • A lot of work required to undertake each stage of the CAP
  • Complexities associated with working across a relatively large group of diverse stakeholders
  • The four goals are specific and primarily anthropogenic and do not pick up on many of the goals for the natural systems.

Case studies



  1. ^ Strang, M, Pannell, D, Roberts, A, Park, G, Alexander, J & Marsh, S (2010), Introduction to INFFER. [online], University of Western Australia, Perth. Available at:
  2. Council of Mayors & Queensland Government (2014), Resilient Rivers Initiative Overview. [online], Council of Mayors (SEQ). Available at:
  3. Resilient Rivers Taskforce (2016), Guide to the preparation of a Catchment Action Plan. [online], Council of Mayors (SEQ), Brisbane. Available at:

Last updated: 1 February 2021

This page should be cited as:

Department of Environment and Science, Queensland (2021) Catchment Action Plan/Resilient Rivers Initiative, WetlandInfo website, accessed 1 February 2023. Available at:

Queensland Government
WetlandInfo   —   Department of Environment and Science