Communities and stakeholders across NSW can bank on a sustainable groundwater future thanks to the launch of the NSW Groundwater Strategy.
Kaia Hodge, Executive Director of Regional Water Strategies for the NSW Department of Planning and Environment, said the strategy is a major milestone in groundwater management, ensuring our vast and precious resources can continue to support the state in the decades to come.
“The strategy went on public exhibition earlier this year, and we heard from residents, local governments, researchers, academics, and industry, agriculture and environmental groups,” Ms Hodge said.
“There was strong support for the strategy and its key priorities across a diverse range of stakeholders, and we’re confident the final strategy reflects community sentiment and local knowledge and is informed by the best possible scientific evidence.
“It means the solutions we’re implementing now, and in the years to come, will ensure NSW has the groundwater resources it needs, despite future challenges.”
In NSW, groundwater is critical to town water supply, including in the regions where more than 250 towns rely on it daily. Across the state, it makes up 10 per cent of the drinking supply. It also underpins the economy, injecting nearly $1 billion each year by supporting industry and agriculture.
Groundwater is also crucial for the environment. Many wetlands, springs and lakes depend on groundwater, as do other valuable assets. Groundwater-dependent ecosystems span up to 6.5 million hectares, or about eight per cent of NSW’s land surface, and support many unique and native plant and animal species.
“It's never been more important to protect groundwater, so it’s managed smartly and sustainably into the future, which is why we’re acting now," Ms Hodge said.
The strategy includes actions to:
- Support towns and cities that use groundwater improve their urban water planning
- Support Aboriginal people’s rights, values and uses of groundwater
- Support resilient groundwater-dependent industries in NSW*Better share and integrate groundwater information
- Improve our understanding of groundwater resources
- Expand and target our groundwater data collection
- Refresh, consolidate and expand our groundwater policy framework
- Improve protection of groundwater-dependent ecosystems and baseflows to streams
- Review and update approaches to sustainable groundwater extraction
- Protect groundwater quality within natural limits
- Better integrate groundwater management with other land and water management processes
- Develop the groundwater components of a water knowledge plan
The first implementation plan will chart how actions are delivered over the next two years. It will be published early in 2023. To read the strategy, visit Groundwater Strategy.