The Department of Planning and Environment – Environment, Energy and Science is the lead agency for the management of Water for the Environment in New South Wales.
In 2021, ARTD Consultants completed an evaluation to assess whether the program had made a difference to the health of rivers and wetlands in New South Wales.
The evaluation included a document review, a field visit to the Macquarie River region, a survey of stakeholders and interviews with staff and stakeholders.
Progress was assessed against the recommendations of the previous evaluation for the period 2006–13.
Key findings included:
- the Environmental Water Management Program is making a positive difference to the health of rivers and wetlands in New South Wales
- overall, there has been progress against the recommendations of the previous evaluation
- processes and systems have been developed since the program's inception, and there is a need to strengthen and improve these systems
- Environmental Water Advisory Groups are working with the department to provide input to planned watering events
- these community advisory groups are held in high regard by program stakeholders and the broader community
- the environmental water program is a complex program that demands robust monitoring, evaluation and reports to adapt and optimise the use of its water portfolio
- Supporting Environmental Water Advisory Groups to communicate program activities and outcomes will benefit the program by maximising collaboration with communities.
The evaluation also provided a set of recommendations across 3 themes:
- disseminating information and enhancing local community engagement
- strengthening program capacity and structuring Environmental Water Advisory Group processes
- developing and implementing robust systems of gathering evidence.