Sydney region

Overview: 2013–14

The Sydney region encompasses the Shoalhaven River catchment to the south, the HawkesburyNepean catchment to the north, and the Illawarra and metropolitan rivers which flow through its major urban centre. The region supports the Sydney metropolis and many populated centres such as Nowra, Goulburn, Lithgow and Moss Vale, as well as large areas of conservation and agriculture. Water administration, supply and management are carried out by several authorities such as the New South Wales Office of Water, the Sydney Water Corporation, the Sydney Catchment Authority, and several local councils.

The Sydney region water requirements are serviced by the extensive surface water storage network that has been developed to meet the water needs of metropolitan Sydney, the most populous city in Australia. The streamflow captured from the region's major rivers is used mainly for urban water supply and agriculture. The Kurnell Desalination Plant and the Fish River Water Supply Scheme also provide water to the region, primarily for urban supply and power generation, although the Kurnell Desalination plant did not supply any water in the 201314 year. Groundwater represents less than 6% of all water rights in the region and is mainly used for domestic and stock purposes.

Rainfall across the Sydney region was below average for the 201314 year and approximately 30% less than the previous year. As a result of low rainfall and dry soil conditions, streamflow in the Shoalhaven and Colo rivers was below average. The decreased rainfall conditions, compared with the 201213 year, contributed to low inflows into the storages. Total storage volume decreased to 83% from 98% of total storage capacity during the 201314 year. Closing net water assets in the Sydney region was 2,390,793 ML, less than the 201213 year by 450,314 ML. For more information on the region's water assets, refer to Water accounting statements.

The key water account information for the Sydney region during the 201314 year is presented in the following table. Information on the uncertainty associated with the volumes presented in the table is provided in the relevant sections of the account.


Contextual information


Climate Overview201314201213Longterm average
Rainfall: 646 mmRainfall: 904 mmRainfall: 889 mm
For more detail on the Sydney climate refer to Climate overview.


Water overviewShoalhaven RiverColo River  Comment
below mean annual flowbelow mean annual flow Below average rainfall contributed to lower flows.
For more detail on streamflow in the Sydney region refer to Water overview.


Water accounting statements

Accounting statements 201314201213
Total water assets as at 30 June (ML)2,390,7932,841,107
Total water liabilities as at 30 June (ML)
Change in net water assets (ML)(450,314)57,862
Closing net water assets (ML)2,390,7932,841,107
For more detail on water assets and water liabilities refer to Water Accounting statements.


Notes: Supporting information


Surface water storage
Surface water 30 June 201430 June 2013
Total capacityVolume% of capacityVolume% of capacity
2,862,622 ML2,386,167 ML83%2,813,222 ML98%
For more detail on surface water storage in the Sydney region refer to Surface water.


Water abstractions
GroundwaterTotal water abstracted 
2013–142012–13Recent activity
Surface water: 632,538 MLSurface water: 612,290 MLSurface water abstractions increased, no desalinated water was supply in either 201213 and 201314.
Desalinated water: 0 MLDesalinated water: 0 ML
For more detail on water abstraction in the Sydney region refer to Surface water.


Urban water supply
Urban water systemTotal water supplied 
201314201213Recent activity
557,820 ML543,311 MLWater supplied increased slightly.
For more detail on the urban water system in the Sydney region refer to Urban water system.