A NSW Government website

NSW Water Strategy

About the Strategy

The NSW Government has developed a 20-year, state-wide water strategy to improve security of our water resources.

Hanging Rock Lookout overlooking Shoalhaven River at Nowra, New South Wales. Image courtesy of DNSW.

The NSW Government has developed the NSW Water Strategy a 20-year, state-wide strategy to improve the security, reliability and quality of the state’s water resources over the coming decades. The NSW Water Strategy addresses key challenges and opportunities for water management and service delivery across the state and set the strategic direction for the NSW water sector over the long-term.

The strategy will:

  • guide water service delivery and resource management across NSW
  • build on the progress made from previous reforms and set the direction to keep improving
  • identify key challenges, opportunities, strategic priorities and actions for the whole of NSW
  • clearly articulate the water resource management and service delivery framework and policy context for NSW, including how the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and state-wide, regional, metropolitan and local strategic water policy and planning frameworks work together.

The NSW Water Strategy is part of a suite of long-term water strategies including 12 regional and two metropolitan water strategies which set out the approach to maintaining and building the resilience of the state’s water resources, including in response to climate variability and change.

How the NSW Water Strategy and regional and metropolitan water strategies interact

The NSW Water Strategy is relevant to a wide range of people and interests, including Aboriginal people, landholders who rely on rivers or aquifers for domestic and stock rights, people living on floodplains, towns and villages, the environment and licensed water users. Rivers provide important recreational opportunities—including tourism, water sports and fishing—and the well-being of regional communities depends on healthy rivers.

The NSW Water Strategy has been developed based on feedback we have heard during our consultation process. We have now developed a implementation plan that sets out how the actions in the strategy will be delivered for the next 12 months. We will report on progress against actions in the strategy and update the Implementation Plan annually.

NSW Water Strategy cover thumbnail

Download the NSW Water Strategy (PDF, 16606.53 KB)

Frequently asked questions

Why do we need a NSW Water Strategy?

A state-wide strategy supports a coordinated and unified approach for the NSW water sector. Water is essential to our health and wellbeing. The recent drought has shown us how vulnerable our water sources can be and we need to better prepare for a future where our water sources will come under even greater stress. This includes being able to respond to changes in water availability, due to both natural variability and climate change.

What is the NSW Water Strategy?

The NSW Water Strategy is a state –wide, high level strategic approach to increase resilience of the state’s water services and resources over the next 20 years. It is one of the many ways the NSW Government is taking action to improve how we share, manage and use water.

It is part of a suite of long-term strategies being developed by the NSW Government.

What are the outcomes of the NSW Water Strategy?

There are more than 40 actions across seven priority areas focused on improving the security, reliability, quality and resilience of the state’s water resources

Who developed the NSW Water Strategy?

The NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment developed the draft NSW Water Strategy based on:

  • community feedback from a range of previous consultation and engagement processes, including consultation on regional water strategies, water sharing plans and water resource plans
  • the findings and recommendations from many inquiries and reviews into water management
  • the experience of the recent drought.

What is the NSW Water Strategy timeline?

15 February –
28 March 2021
Public consultation Hear views from stakeholders and the community
April – July 2021 Finalise the NSW Water Strategy Consolidate feedback on the draft, publish ‘what we heard’ document
July/August 2021 Publish final strategy Publish final strategy and implementation plan
Ongoing Evaluate and adapt Ongoing evaluation of implementation and adaption of the strategy as circumstances change

How does the Strategy meet the objectives and principals of the NSW Water Management Act 2000?

To achieve the aims of the strategy, 7 strategic priorities focused on meeting core objectives based on the NSW Water Management Act 2000 were developed.

How the strategy was developed

We engaged with a wide range of individuals and organisations in development of this strategy.

How the strategy was developed


An alphabetical list of commonly used terms from the Strategy and their definitions.

NRAR staff inspecting equipment.

Contact us

If you have any questions regarding the draft NSW Water Strategy please contact nsw.waterstrategy@dpie.nsw.gov.au.