Integrated Water Cycle Management (IWCM) is a way for local water utilities to sustainably manage their water systems to maximise benefits to the community and environment. It also achieves improved communication between local water utilities, water users and water managers. It is a key component of the Office of Water's NSW Best-Practice Management of Water Supply and Sewerage Framework (PDF 136 KB).

A water utility's 30-year IWCM Strategy identifies the water, sewerage and stormwater scenario which provides best value for money on the basis of social, environmental and economic considerations – a TBL basis. IWCM will deliver an integrated and sustainable water business with a strategic outlook ensuring equitable access to water for the environment and all current and future population of the community.

IWCM deals effectively with the complex linkages between different elements of the urban water cycle (water supply, sewage and stormwater). This is done within the urban area and between the urban area and its water related physical and legislative catchment. This multiple approach encourages cost effective integration of these urban water systems. Integrated systems often rely less on natural water sources as more benefit is made of water already being used through demand management, recycling of treated effluent and stormwater use.

IWCM follows the principles listed below:

  • Consideration of all water sources (including waste water) in water planning
  • The sustainable and equitable use of all water sources
  • Consideration of all water users including the environment
  • Integration of all elements of the water cycle – catchment, water resources, water use, natural water processes, end user.

These principles are used to achieve the following IWCM objectives:

  • Identification of key water cycle issues
  • Identification of the urban context for these issues
  • Enhancement of community engagement and ownership
  • Identification and implementation of strategies that will manage these issues appropriately.

Information sheets

Information sheets have been developed to explain several key IWCM process steps:

Integrated Water Cycle Management Guidelines and Scope of Works

The NSW Office of Water has developed the IWCM Guidelines to provide guidance on undertaking IWCM planning.

The Office of Water has also developed an example IWCM Generic scope of work for the evaluation and strategy for local water utilities to use as a guide to develop a consultant engagement brief.

Working with the NSW Office of Water

Local water utilities should contact a NSW Office of Water water utility officer, or send an email to, prior to commencing work on IWCM planning.

Financial support

Funding support is available to utilities undertaking their first IWCM Evaluation and/or IWCM Strategy under the Office of Water's Country Towns Water Supply and Sewerage Program.

Financial support is available for:

  • evaluation study
  • demand analysis and water use forecasts
  • supply analysis of new options (including sustainable yield)
  • distribution analysis of new options
  • scenario development and comparison on a triple bottom line evaluation
  • economic and rate impact assessment
  • community consultation
  • IWCM report production.

Local water utilities are required to seek funding approval prior to the consultant being engaged. Funds will be paid at the completion of the first satisfactory IWCM Evaluation and/or IWCM Strategy.

For more information on activities eligible for funding, see information sheet No 1: IWCM - helping local water utilities provide better services PDF 180 KB).

More information on financial assistance.


One of the major obstacle most utilities encounter when preparing an IWCM evaluation has been the lack of suitable data. The IWCM - Generic Scope of Work Evaluation and Strategy (PDF 893 KB) and the IWCM - Guidelines for NSW Local Water Utilities (PDF 1 MB) or your water utility contact officer can give you further details and information on this topic.

Why undertake Integrated Water Cycle Management?

Preparation of an IWCM is not compulsory for local water utilities. However, it is required:

  • to meet best practice management requirements
  • to enable a utility to pay a dividend
  • to be eligibile for financial assistance towards capital cost of backlog infrastructure.


The NSW Office of Water has developed models to assist with the implementation of IWCM. These models are only available to local water utilities in NSW undertaking IWCM. For a copy of the model, please contact a water utility officer. IWCM manuals can be downloaded below:

This manual provides guidance on how to improve the accuracy of forecasts and obtain a better understanding of how investment in water conservation can bring about significant net savings in capital and operating costs.

The water tracking model (or climate correction model as it is commonly called) uses non-linear regression analysis to draw a relationship between daily water demand and various daily climate variables.

This model is recommended to be used to assess the benefits to a utility of rainwater tanks connected to a house for several locations across NSW based on a set of simple variable options. The model can also be upgraded by the utility if local Bureau of Meteorological data is available.

Please note these documents published by a predecessor agency represents the most current information on this topic.

Contact us

For more information, or to discuss any aspect of the Integrated Water Cycle Management process, contact your nearest regional urban water officer.