A NSW Government website

NSW Water Strategy

Towards 2050: Our priorities and implementation plan

Our vision

Sustainable water resources for thriving people, places and ecosystems, both now and for future generations.

What we need to achieve

To rise to the challenges facing NSW, the NSW Government is planning for the future and taking action to improve the security, reliability, quality and resilience of the state’s water resources. We also need to continue to rebuild community trust and confidence in the management of water resources in NSW.

To achieve these aims, we have identified seven strategic priorities focused on meeting core objectives based on the NSW Water Management Act 2000. The Act provides a clear direction that NSW must provide for the sustainable and integrated management of the water sources of the state for the benefit of both present and future generations. We have also developed a set of principles to guide the long-term strategic planning for water resource management in NSW, as well as the day-to-day management of the system.

Actions taken through the NSW Water Strategy will need to contribute to one or more of these core objectives and align with the guiding principles.

The objectives, principles and priorities for the NSW Water Strategy, as well as the actions the NSW Government will take in each priority area.

Core objectives

  • Protecting public health and safety
  • Liveable and vibrant towns and cities
  • Water sources, floodplains and ecosystems protected
  • Cultural values respected and protected
  • Orderly fair and equitable sharing of water
  • Contribute to a strong economy

Guiding principles

  • Healthy environments sustain social and economic outcomes
  • Water is a limited (although recyclable) resource
  • Systems thinking to optimise outcomes
  • Data-enabled planning and decision-making
  • Transparency and accountability to engender community trust
  • Forward thinking to build preparedness and resilience
  • Giving effect to Aboriginal rights and access to water

Implementing the NSW Water Strategy


Overview of how delivery of actions in the Strategy will be staged over short, medium and longer-term time horizons:

Horizon 1

  • one-two year delivery timeframe
  • improving current performance and based on current capability.

Horizon 2

  • start now for a three-five year delivery timeframe
  • builds from current capability and current approach to water management
  • may involve interjurisdictional collaboration.

Horizon 3

  • aspirations that need enhanced capability, thinking and approaches to deliver.

Our priorities

Priority 1

Build community confidence and capacity through engagement, transparency and accountability

Farmer returning to Wray Street Oyster Shed, Batemans Bay. Image courtesy of Destination NSW.

Priority 2

Recognise First Nations/Aboriginal People’s rights and values and increase access to and ownership of water for cultural and economic

Sandy beach by Macquarie River, Dubbo. Image courtesy of Destination NSW.

Priority 3

Improve river, floodplain and aquifer ecosystem health, and system connectivity

Views of the Macquarie south marshes, Macquarie lagoon. Image courtesy of Department of Environment, Energy and Science.

Priority 4

Increase resilience to changes in water availability (variability and climate change)

Scenic aerial of the Darling River and Murray River, Wentworth. Image courtesy of Destination NSW.

Priority 5

Support economic growth and resilient industries within a capped system

Pecan trees ready to be harvested, Moree. Image courtesy of Destination NSW.

Priority 6

Support resilient, prosperous and liveable cities and towns

Aerial view of town centre, Mudgee. Image courtesy of Destination NSW.

Priority 7

Enable a future focused, capable and innovative water sector

Water Recycling Plant, St. Mary’s. Image courtesy of Adam Hollingsworth, Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.