Drought is an intrinsic part of the Australian landscape. With one of the most variable rainfall climates in the world, severe drought affects some part of Australia about once every 18 years. Intervals between severe droughts have varied from four to 38 years and the impacts of climate change will mean more prolonged dry periods, particularly in inland areas of NSW.
The NSW Office of Water plays a vital role in managing, allocating and protecting the water resources of NSW, especially important during times of low flows and drought.
Water carting for Menindee residents
Minister for Lands and Water Niall Blair, announced funding for water cartage to residents and businesses not connected to the Menindee town water supply.
Barwon-Darling flow updates
Following heavy rainfall in northern NSW and southern Queensland, inflows have begun to pass through the upper catchments that feed into the Barwon-Darling river system. For more detailed information, see factsheets below.
- Barwon-Darling flow update - 10 June 2015 (PDF, 378.14 KB)
- Barwon-Darling flow update - 26 May 2015 (PDF 382 KB)
- Barwon-Darling flow update - 19 May 2015 (PDF 107 KB)
- Barwon-Darling flow update - 5 May 2015 (PDF 461 KB)
- Barwon-Darling flow update - 1 May 2015 (PDF 189 KB)
- Barwon-Darling flow update - 20 April 2015 (PDF 265 KB)
- Barwon-Darling flow update - 7 April 2015 (PDF 275 KB)
Low flows over 2014/15
Substantial parts of NSW experienced less than expected rainfall and very high temperatures over the summer of 2014/15 leading to many areas of the state being drought declared. Planning has commenced to manage lower than average reserves of water in the state's storages.
The low flows in the Barwon-Darling system have seen the Menindee Lakes storage revert to NSW control. The Lakes will now be managed to meet local needs.
Management of Menindee Lakes community information
- May 2016 - Lower Darling and Menindee Lakes Management Update (PDF, 389.46 KB)
- 19 April 2016 - Lower Darling and Menindee Lakes Management Update (PDF, 472.59 KB)
- Issue 20 - 1 December 2015 (PDF, 697.75 KB)
- Issue 19 - 22 October 2015 (PDF, 578.9 KB)
- Issue 18 - 2 September 2015 (PDF, 1322.43 KB)
- Issue 17 - July 2015 (PDF, 525.03 KB)
- Issue 16 - 24 June 2015 (PDF, 681.74 KB)
- Issue 15 - 22 May 2015 (PDF 707 KB)
- 1 May 2015 - Darling River flows cease - information for Lower Darling Water users (PDF 34 KB)
- Issue 14 - 22 April 2015 (PDF 558 KB)
- Issue 13 - 12 March 2015 (PDF 934 KB)
- Issue 12 - 19 February 2015 (PDF 736 KB)
- Issue 11 - 16 January 2015 (PDF 672 KB)
- Issue 10 - 18 December 2014 (PDF 307 KB)
- Issue 9 - 20 November 2014 (PDF 380 KB)
- Issue 8 - 20 October 2014 (PDF 300 KB)
- Issue 7 - 10 September 2014 (PDF 471 KB)
- Issue 6 - 12 August 2014 (PDF 334 KB)
- Issue 5 - 4 July 2014 (PDF 196 KB)
- Issue 4 - 5 June 2014 (PDF 226 KB)
- Issue 3 - 2 May 2014 (PDF 407 KB)
- Issue 2 - 4 April 2014 (PDF 282 KB)
- Issue 1 - 7 March 2014 (PDF 155 KB)
For information on the current status of water sharing plans go to Water management > Water sharing plans > Plans commenced.
2006 to 2010
From 2006 to 2010, New South Wales experienced inflows lower than any previously recorded. As a result, several water sharing plans across the Southern Basin were suspended and, by 2007, critical water advisory groups were established to advise on the best way to manage the limited water resources to sustain rural communities and the environment. Critical water planning communiqués were issued outlining the water resource availability, how it was being shared and provided probabilities for improvement. Due to significant rainfall across the state in 2010, communiqués were discontinued after October.
A complete list of communiqués issued between May 2007 and October 2010 can be viewed from the Critical water planning archive.
During drought conditions, the NSW Office of Water may restrict the use of surface and groundwater for domestic purposes (under a s324 Order Water Management Act 2000) to the same level as local council water restrictions.
The Office of Water works in partnership with local water utilities in regional NSW to manage town water supplies during drought. For more information go to Urban water > Country Towns Program > Drought relief
Information on assistance available to farmers and rural businesses is available from NSW Department of Primary Industries.