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National Water Account 2018

Sydney: Water management

  • Water entitlements, licences, allocations, and sharing are administered through two water sharing plans—one for surface water and one for groundwater—under the Water Management Act 2000.
  • Water sharing plans define how water is shared between the various needs, in order to protect the environmental health and long-term sustainability of water sources.

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For further geographic information about the region scroll down this page or click on the links below:

 

 

Surface water and groundwater management

Water legislation

 

Water management plans

  • The NSW Department of Industry is responsible for managing surface water and groundwater resources in the State through the preparation of water sharing plans. Water management plans are current over a 10-year period, after which the water sharing plans are reviewed and revised or reinstated as appropriate.
  • Surface water resources in the region are managed under the Water Sharing Plan for the Greater Metropolitan Region Unregulated River Water Sources 2011 (NSW Office of Water 2011a), which commenced on 1 July 2011. It was amended on 1 July 2016 to include the Kangaroo River Management Zone, replacing the former Water Sharing Plan for the Kangaroo River Water Source 2003.
  • Under the Water Sharing Plan for the Greater Metropolitan Region Unregulated River Water Sources 2011, there are six water source areas: Shoalhaven River, Illawarra Rivers, Upper Nepean and Upstream Warragamba, Hawkesbury and Lower Nepean Rivers, Southern Sydney Rivers, and Northern Sydney Rivers.

 

Figure R7 Water source areas for Sydney region
Figure R7 Water source areas for Sydney region

 

  • Groundwater resources in the region are managed under the Water Sharing Plan for the Greater Metropolitan Region Groundwater Sources (NSW Office of Water 2011b), which commenced on 1 July 2011.

 

Figure R8 Groundwater management units within the Sydney region
Figure R8 Groundwater management units within the Sydney region
 

 

  • Groundwater is a minor water source in the region, and is mainly used for irrigation or industrial purposes.
  • There are 13 groundwater management areas within the region and these areas are grouped into fractured rock, porous rock, and coastal sands, tertiary sands and alluvial.
  • Entitlements held by urban utilities are available from three groundwater management areas: Goulburn Fractured Rock, Sydney Basin–Nepean Sandstone and Sydney Basin–Richmond Sandstone.

 

Environmental water management

  • The Water Management Act 2000 makes provision for the environmental health of the region's water resources through two mechanisms: planned environmental water and adaptive environmental water.

 

Planned environmental water

  • Planned environmental water is prescribed under the rules of a water sharing plan.
  • For unregulated rivers, these rules may include requiring visible flows or specified flow levels before extraction of water, and/or setting daily limits on extraction.
  • Rules for groundwater can include reserving storage components or a proportion of the natural recharge for aquifers, and/or setting distance limits between new bores and groundwater dependent ecosystems.

 

Adaptive environmental water

  • Adaptive environmental water allows licensed water to be committed for environmental purposes; these provisions are specified in the licences issued to water utilities or water management authorities.
  • The regulating authority overseeing environmental flow management in the Sydney region is the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage.

 

Cultural water management

  • The Aboriginal Water Initative (NSW Office of Water 2013) was established in 2012 to improve Aboriginal involvement and representation in water planning and management within NSW.
  • Through this programme, the NSW Department of Industry monitors the success of water sharing plans in meeting requirements under the Water Management Act 2000.
  • These requirements include recognising spiritual, social, customary and economic values of water to Aboriginal people, and establishing flow rules to protect Aboriginal cultural values dependent on water.
  • The provision of water for native title rights, economic development of Aboriginal communities, and cultural purposes including specific Aboriginal water access licences, is also a requirement under the Act.

 

Organisations responsible for water management

 

Figure R9 Boundaries of Sydney Water Corporation and WaterNSW within the Sydney region
Figure R9 Boundaries of Sydney Water Corporation and WaterNSW within the Sydney region
 

 

  • WaterNSW is the bulk water supplier and diverts water to the major utility, Sydney Water Corporation.
  • WaterNSW also supplies water to other local utilities (Goulburn Mulwaree Council, Shoalhaven City Council and Wingecarribee Shire Council) and retail customers in the region.
  • Several other organisations also divert surface water from water sources based on their water access entitlements.

 

Table R1 Organisations and utilities responsible for water management activities within the Sydney region
OrganisationResponsibilityStorages operated within the region
EnergyAustralia
  • water supply for power generation (coal)
  • reservoir manager
  • infrastructure operator
  • environmental and riparian flow manager
  • Lake Lyell
  • Lake Wallace 
  • Thomsons Creek
Origin Energy
  • water supply for power generation (hydro-power)
  • infrastructure operator
n/a
Goulburn Mulwaree Council
  • retail urban utility
  • reservoir manager
  • infrastructure operator
  • wastewater system operator
  • Pejar
  • Sooley
Hawkesbury–Nepean Catchment Management Authority
  • natural resources management
  • development and implementation of river health strategies
n/a
Lithgow City Council
  • retail urban utility
  • reservoir manager
  • infrastructure operator
  • wastewater system operator
  • Farmers Creek No. 2
New South Wales Office of the Environment and Heritage (within the New South Wales Department of the Premier and Cabinet)
  • overseeing environmental water management
  • advising on water quality, water pollution and treatment
  • supporting wetland conservation and management
  • securing water for the environment through planning mechanisms, water purchase and water-efficient infrastructure
n/a
NSW Department of Industry
  • water licensing and compliance including issuing of individual user licences and monitoring of usage
  • water planning and implementation of interstate programmes
  • surface water and groundwater management
  • water information and modelling
  • science and evaluation
  • policy and regulation of local water utilities
  • provision of legal advice on water matters to the government.
n/a
Queanbeyan–Palerang Regional Council
  • retail urban utility
  • infrastructure operator
  • wastewater system operator
n/a
Shoalhaven City Council

  • retail urban utility
  • reservoir manager
  • infrastructure operator
  • wastewater system operator
  • Bamarang
  • Danjera
  • Flat Rock Creek
WaterNSW
  • bulk water supply
  • storage manager
  • infrastructure operator
  • environmental and riparian flow manager
  • catchment management, including:
    • surety that new developments in the drinking water catchments have a neutral and beneficial effect on water quality
    • grants and incentives to improve land management and wastewater management
    • community education initiatives
  • Avon
  • Blue Mountains storages (Medlow, Greaves Creek, Upper Cascade, Middle Cascade and Lower Cascade)
  • Cataract
  • Cordeaux
  • Fitzroy Falls
  • Warragamba (Lake Burragorang)
  • Tallowa (Lake Yarrunga)
  • Nepean
  • Prospect
  • Wingecarribee
  • Woronora
Local Land Services
  • natural resources management
  • development and implementation of river health strategies
n/a
Sydney Water Corporation
  • retail urban utility
  • infrastructure operator
  • wastewater system operator
n/a
Wingecarribee Shire Council
  • retail urban utility
  • reservoir manager
  • infrastructure operator
  • wastewater system operator
  • Bundanoon
  • Medway