What is water for the environment?

Water for the environment supports the plants and animals of the wetlands and floodplains.

Your river at work : Finding the balance

Rivers are a shared resource. They carry water to towns and farms. Along the way, they nourish entire ecosystems, including the unique native plants and animals that live there.

Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) is supporting healthy, productive river systems by providing environmental water to key sites across NSW.

In partnership with local communities, OEH is helping to ensure the future of these important river networks.

Water that is allocated and managed specifically to improve the health of rivers, wetlands and floodplains is known as environmental water.

The management of environmental water involves many supporting activities such as landholder engagement, research, monitoring and evaluation, infrastructure development and land management.

The water is managed in a way that is consistent with natural, seasonal flow patterns that occurred before river regulation (see diagram - click to view larger version of the diagram). Diagram courtesy of Victorian Environmental Water Holder (VEWH).

Diagram showing variation of river flows according to seasons

Environmental water sites, NSW

Environmental water has helped to restore, maintain and improve more than 210 wetland sites, as well as many sections of rivers and floodplains in NSW, over the past 20 years.

map of NSW showing environmental water sites


Achievements include:

  • major waterbird breeding events
  • recovery of wetlands following the millennium drought
  • re-emergence of threatened frog species (such as the Southern bell frog)
  • improved health for Black Box and River Red Gum communities after long dry periods
  • improved condition of wetland vegetation targeted for environmental watering
  • restoration of habitat for threatened fish, birds and other fauna
  • new infrastructure to support more efficient water delivery.

The combined efforts of local communities and NSW Office of Environment and Heritage staff are contributing to the long-term resilience of these important rivers, wetlands and floodplains.

Further details of achievements in each valley are detailed by catchment and documented in Environmental water use in New South Wales: Outcomes 2015-16 (PDF 9.2MB).

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Page last updated: 02 August 2017