Water is a limited and precious resource and must be managed both for immediate needs and for long-term economic and environmental sustainability. With the effects of climate change now a reality, and increasing demands for water, sound policies are required to ensure a sustainable supply of water for present and future generations.
Our water comes from rivers, streams, and lakes (surface water) and water held under the ground in aquifers (groundwater). The NSW Office of Water is responsible for the strategic management of the State's freshwater resources. This involves:
- setting water policy
- developing statutory water sharing plans
- negotiating interstate and national water agreements
- determining how available water is allocated to water users, particularly during times of drought
- approving the extraction, use and trade of water
- monitoring the quantity and quality of water extractions
- monitoring the ecological health of our aquatic ecosystems.
In NSW fresh water resources are managed via water sharing plans under the Water Management Act 2000.
A key component of managing the state's water resources is ensuring water users comply with the rules set out by NSW water management legislation. In its regulatory role, the Office of Water works to prevent, detect and stop illegal water activities by promoting, monitoring and enforcing compliance with the legislation and associated regulations.
Water sharing planning follows a cyclic pattern: planning; implementation, then monitoring and evaluation, returning to further planning and repeat of the cycle.
Once planning is completed and the water sharing plan commences, implementation of the plan occurs.
Prior to expiry of the ten year term of a water sharing plan, the plan is reviewed to determine whether it should be reviewed or extended for a further period. Monitoring and evaluation is undertaken to inform this planning remake period.
For a list of draft water sharing plans, including those still on public exhibition, go to Plans on exhibition.
For a list of all commenced water sharing plans go to Plans commenced.
To find out about the review process for water sharing plans and to view a table outlining the schedule for the remake of already commenced water sharing plans go to Plans under review.
For a list of draft water sharing plans which are still under development go to Plans under development.
The Office of Water also works with partner agencies and with the community to provide a reliable, sustainable supply of water for households, irrigators, farmers, industry and the environment.
State Water operates the major rural dams across NSW. Water supplies to households are the responsibility of local water utilities across most of NSW and State-owned Corporations in the major metropolitan centres.
For non-metropolitan areas the Office of Water provides managerial, technical and financial support under the Country Towns Water Supply and Sewerage Program.
Responsibility for the following actiivies previously managed by the NSW Office of Water was transferred to the Department of Finance and Services in June 2011.
- For the greater Sydney region, coordination of the whole-of-government policy framework to secure a sustainable water supply through the 2010 Metropolitan Water Plan.
- For the lower Hunter region, leading development of a new Lower Hunter Water Plan to secure a sustainable water supply.
- Management of the Metropolitan Water Directorate education program, a co-ordinated whole-of-government approach to water education.
On 13 July 1912, the Minister for Works at the time, Arthur Griffiths, along with two of the pioneers that played leading roles in the construction of the irrigation network, winched open the gates for the first water from the Murrumbidgee River to flow into the channels at Yanco, near Leeton.
It took the vision and wisdom of pioneers such as Hugh Giffen McKinney and Sir Samuel McCaughey to see the potential in diverting water from the Murrumbidgee River to transform the south-west of NSW into what it is today.
The Murrumbidgee area is one of the country's greatest and most diverse productive regions, contributing in excess of $2.5 billion annually to our national economy.
The area produces a wide variety of cereal crops, citrus, wine grapes, as well as livestock and fibre production.
One hundred years on and Murrumbidgee Irrigation Ltd is one of the largest private irrigation companies in Australia, being privatised in 1999.
The NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Katrina Hodgkinson, attended a re-enactment of turning on the water at Yanco on 13 July 2012.
Media release 13 July 2012 Congratulations Murrumbidgee Irrigation on 100 years (PDF 109 KB).
For more information on the centenary, go to Murrumbidgee Irrigation Ltd's website