Why do we need water for the environment?
Historic over-allocation and overuse of water, combined with prolonged drought in many areas of Australia, have caused a decline in condition of many rivers and wetland areas in New South Wales.
The NSW Government recognises that water is essential to the environment, the economy and the communities which rely on these assets, and is committed to the equitable and productive use of water resources.
NSW water recovery programs are improving environmental outcomes through the purchase of water to deliver benefits to wetlands and rivers and are also undertaking cost-effective investment in infrastructure, such as building pipes to replace open channels, to minimise evaporation losses in water distribution systems.
Wetlands help keep rivers and groundwater systems healthy and they are areas of great environmental, social and economic significance in themselves. As well as being biological treasure troves, rivers and wetlands provide drought refuge for wildlife and stock, help maintain water quality and reduce the severity of floods, act as a sink for greenhouse gases, recharge groundwater systems, and support grazing, timber and honey production, tourism and other industries.
Rivers and wetlands often have special social and spiritual significance to Aboriginal people. They provide tangible links to the traditional stories, beliefs and practices that contribute to the cultural identity of Aboriginal people, they are significant places in culture and provided rich resources of food, fibre, medicine, navigation and shelter. As the setting for many early interactions between Aboriginal people and settlers, wetlands are also of considerable historical importance.
NSW water law provides for secure water entitlements and an opportunity to use water markets to increase the share of water available to the environment. This opportunity is being realised by significant government investment to direct water back into our rivers and wetlands in a way that recognises the value of water to other users.
Page last updated: 07 April 2011