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Water Overview


A summary of the significant water events, major water initiatives and improvements in water information occurring during the reporting period are explained.


Significant Water Events

Administrative changes to water responsibilities

In July 2009 the NSW Government issued administrative orders abolishing the Department of Water and Energy (DWE) and establishing two new agencies to manage the functions of the former department. The water responsibilities formerly in DWE are now managed by the NSW Office of Water.

Establishment of the Office of the Hawkesbury-Nepean

The Office of the Hawkesbury-Nepean is a NSW Government initiative to improve the health of the Hawkesbury-Nepean river system. The office was opened on 27 March 2009. The functions of the office are defined by the Hawkesbury-Nepean River Act 2009. This Act was passed by the NSW Parliament on 3 April 2009, and as a result the office was effectively functioning during 2009–10.

Delivering water from Sydney’s desalination plant

See other water resources within the Physical Information Section.

Major Water Initiatives

Three major water initiatives applicable to the Sydney region were progressed in 2009–10:

Draft water sharing plans

Water sharing plans are progressively developed for rivers and groundwater systems across New South Wales following the introduction of the Water Management Act 2000 (New South Wales).

Water sharing plans bring water users, still operating under the Water Act 1912 (New South Wales), into the one licensing system managed under the Water Management Act 2000 (New South Wales) and set the rules for how water is allocated for the next ten years.
Once a water sharing plan is approved, the NSW Office of Water may establish an implementation program under the Water Management Act 2000 (New South Wales) for relevant areas.

The draft plans for both unregulated river water sources and groundwater sources were on public exhibition from 7 June to 30 July 2010 except for the Kangaroo River water source. The websites Water sharing plan for greater metropolitan region unregulated river water sources and Water sharing plan for the greater metropolitan region groundwater sources provide details of current status of the development of the plans. The plans commence on 1 July 2011.

Approved Water sharing plan for the Kangaroo River water source was implemented in July 2004.

2010 Metropolitan Water Plan

NSW Government produced the 2010 Metropolitan water plan for Sydney after reviewing the 2006 plan. The 2010 Metropolitan water plan identified measures to address additional water needs resulting from severe drought and increasing population. The 2010 Metropolitan water plan focuses on improving four areas on water supply: reservoirs, recycling, desalination and water efficiency. Details of actions proposed for these improvements are available in the 2010 Metropolitan water plan.

Hawkesbury-Nepean River Recovery Program

In May 2009, the Australian Government announced $77.4 million of funding for the Hawkesbury-Nepean River recovery package. The program aims to improve river health by making more water available for environmental flows and reducing nutrient inputs to the river system. Details of seven projects proposed to improve river health are available in the Hawkesbury-Nepean River recovery package.

Major Improvements in Water Information

Public access to real-time flow and supporting data

A new water information site established and managed by NSW Office of Water provides public access to real-time river height, flow and supporting data for a large number of streamflow gauges within the Sydney region.

Metering rollout program

Managed by the NSW Office of Water and funded by the Australian Government, a program is being implemented to install or upgrade water meters and monitoring systems for up to 2000 licensed surface water users within the Hawkesbury-Nepean catchment. The monitoring systems will be equipped with telemetry facilities. The metering program is a part of the project Improving Hawkesbury-Nepean water balance accounting.

Water storage information

During 2009–10, the Bureau of Meteorology commenced presenting water storage information on its website. Currently, the website shows storage data for 15 reservoirs covering over 95% of capacity in the Sydney region.