How is environmental water managed?

Environmental water is managed by:

Adaptive water management: cycle - Reseach and investigations - Annual planning with EWAGs - Planning and stakeholder consultation for EW events - Communication and delivery of EW events - Monotiring of EW event - Evaluation of all EW events to achieve objectives

Adaptive water management

The role of the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage

In NSW, the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) manages the delivery of environmental water in collaboration with stakeholders and other agencies.

OEH also delivers environmental water held by the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder. OEH supports the efficient and effective delivery of environmental water by undertaking research, infrastructure works and monitoring of environmental water.

Working in partnership with stakeholder groups and other agencies, OEH identifies priority watering sites and riparian areas and then delivers water to achieve ecological outcomes at these specific sites. The management of environmental water takes into consideration infrastructure requirements, the needs of other river users, ecological responses, monitoring and reporting.

OEH also has a governance framework for environmental water management in NSW.  This involves the oversight and coordination of water accounting, trading, monitoring and reporting.

Cooperative management

The NSW Government works to achieve environmental water outcomes. Cooperative management arrangements (PDF 72KB) are across a number of agencies documented here. Partner agencies include the NSW Office of Water (NOW), Water NSW, Local Land Services, Fisheries NSW, Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder (CEWH) and various research institutions.

Regional management

Environmental water is managed at a regional, valley or catchment scale.  The five key valleys within the Murray Darling Basin include:

These valleys have been targeted for environmental water management based on their unique ecological profiles and opportunities to recover and manage environmental water. Each is home to a range of rare, endangered or vulnerable plant communities, animal populations and significant ecosystems.

How decisions are made

Decisions on environmental water management are based on annual and long-term watering plans. These plans bring together the knowledge and expertise of OEH scientists, water managers, field staff, partner agencies and community stakeholder groups to determine priorities for the coming year.

Typically, these plans identify a range of objectives, such as:

  • building resilience into an ecosystem
  • triggering plant and animal breeding cycles
  • maintaining refuge during dry times
  • building on the successes of previous watering events.

Decisions for individual watering events to achieve planned objectives are then made based on a number of considerations, including:

  • rainfall events
  • climatic conditions
  • water availability
  • water use
  • stakeholder support
  • potential ecological outcomes.


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Page last updated: 09 July 2015