Water Policy


The Greens NSW believe that:

1. Water is a common good and should be managed in an ecologically sustainable way to meet environmental, cultural, social and economic needs. This includes accounting for the increasingly extreme conditions to be expected as climate change progresses.

2. First Nations cultural knowledge, connection to country and right to cultural flows should be recognised.

3. Water management should aim to preserve and where appropriate restore natural flow regimes and water quality for the benefit of all species and ecosystems that rely on it.

4. People have the right to access clean water for domestic use.

5.  People and ecosystems should not be negatively impacted by water pollution.

6.  Sustainable agricultural production must include crops that are less water intensive and irrigation that is more efficient. There should be no new in-stream dams or weirs, or enlargement of existing ones.

7.  Water use should be managed through measurement and monitoring of all extraction and discharge with strong, well-resourced regulation and with appropriate penalties for non-compliance.

8.  Groundwater extraction should not exceed groundwater recharge over the long term.

9.  The marketisation of water has too often resulted in significant adverse environmental, social and cultural impacts.

10. The provision of water to a community through a fixed network is a public service and should be publicly owned and run.

11. Government decision making relating to water management must include and reflect full community participation and public accountability.

12. Catchments that cross political boundaries must be managed by public agencies that transcend these boundaries.

13. Inter-catchment transfers of water should be avoided if possible.

14. There should be no more urban development on floodplains.

15. There should be no mining in or under waterways, water bodies and wetlands or drinking water catchments.

16. Sewage should be treated to a standard for sustainable re-use.

17. Water sensitive urban design (WSUD) aims to design or modify urban stormwater systems so that stormwater is captured, treated and reused in ways that improve the urban environment.


The Greens NSW will work towards:

18. The ecologically sustainable management of water by:

    18.1.  Using and reusing water and wastewater efficiently and as close to source as practicable, such as with on-site wastewater management, rainwater tanks, stormwater recycling, reuse for water supply, water reuse and efficient irrigation;

    18.2.  Reforming the management culture of all water authorities to prioritise environmental and socially just objectives;

    18.3.  Enhancing the sustainability, natural variability and resilience of the physical, ecological and social aspects of the water cycle in the face of increasingly extreme variations in flow resulting from climate change;

    18.4.  Protecting and enhancing water quality;

    18.5.  Planting crops that are suited to the climate or require minimal and seasonally appropriate irrigation;

    18.6.  Restoring ecologically and culturally significant wetlands;

    18.7.  Caring for catchment through restoring native vegetation and ecosystem regeneration including through the creation of freshwater aquatic reserves;

    18.8.  Pricing and regulating water services;

    18.9.  Desalination with renewable energy;

    18.10. Enhancing infiltration to groundwater;

    18.11. Restoring and boosting funding for household-water recycling programs; and

    18.12. Restoring and boosting funding for school-based awareness programs such as Streamwatch.

19. Recognising First Nations cultural knowledge, connection to country and water rights by:

    19.1.  Supporting the establishment of cultural flows, being water entitlements legally and beneficially owned by First Nations in sufficient quantity and quality for improving their spiritual, cultural, environmental, social and economic condition;

    19.2.  Granting of cultural water licenses as required under the NSW Water Management Act 2000 and the Murray-Darling Basin Plan;

    19.3.  Ensuring that water bodies are able to be included in Native Title claims; and

    19.4.  Supporting inclusive and appropriate First Nations consultation and engagement in all water planning and management processes.

20. Promoting healthy riverine environments by:

    20.1.  Restoring fishways, fish migration pathways, and endemic fish habitats; 

    20.2.  Restoring natural water temperatures downstream of large dams; 

    20.3.  Ensuring that public water storages benefit the riverine environment as well as extractive water users;

    20.4.  Subjecting to an environmental impact assessment any works that impede, divert or speed up river flows or floodwaters on floodplains or speed the movement of river or flood water; and

    20.5.  Ending the release of non-native species into water bodies;

    20.6.  Mapping and protecting all natural NSW wetlands and encouraging new artificial wetlands;

    20.7.  Removing or lowering dams and weirs where possible; and

    20.8.  Preventing the re-alignment of waterways.

21. Ensuring universal access to affordable domestic water including potable water for drinking and water of appropriate quality for other uses;

22. Reducing water pollution by:

    22.1.  Fully treating all sewage and mine water discharges to natural water bodies;

    22.2.  Phasing out ocean outfalls;

    22.3.  Implementing an environmental levy to counter the public cost of environmental damage associated with resource misuse;

    22.4.  Reducing stormwater infiltration to sewers;

    22.5.  Minimising runoff and seepage from phosphate-based agricultural activities;

    22.6.  Reducing use of harmful cleaning chemicals;

    22.7.  Assisting farmers to exclude farm animals from the riparian zone of perennial watercourses in order to protect water quality and enhance endemic riparian ecosystems; and

    22.8.  Preventing pollution of groundwater from sources such as landfill, fuel storage tanks, and mining.

23. Improving agricultural sustainability through:

    23.1.  Fostering the development of low water-demand agricultural crops to replace higher demand crops as part of a structural transformation towards reduced water usage;

    23.2.  Offering incentives for products whose raw materials require minimal irrigation and are more in keeping with natural rainfall patterns; and

    23.3.  Ensuring NSW meets or exceeds its requirements under the Murray Darling Basin Plan.

24. The regulation of floodplain harvesting through:

    24.1.  Bringing floodplain harvesting volumes within the Murray Darling Basin cap;

    24.2.  Implementing end-of-system flow rules;

    24.3.  Disallowing carry-overs of water entitlements from one season to the next;

    24.4.  Disallowing trading of floodplain harvesting entitlements; and

    24.5.  Removing environmentally and culturally damaging or illegal floodplain structures.

25. Implementing more cost effective alternatives to large scale water infrastructure projects, such as water efficiency, conservation and water recycling.

26. Monitoring and measuring all water extracted from, discharged to and flowing along natural water bodies and through the constructed public water network in a transparent manner.

27. Improving management of groundwater by:

    27.1.  Prioritising the management of uncontrolled flows of bore waters from artesian, sub-artesian and shallow aquifers by capping and piping;

    27.2.  Mapping, metering and licensing all existing bores;

    27.3.  Recharging aquifers with water of a quality no worse than what is there already; and

    27.4.  Metering and regulating groundwater extraction so that it does not exceed groundwater recharge.

28. Regulating water markets to:

    28.1.  Take account of environmental, social and cultural impacts;

    28.2.  Deter large scale water speculation; and

    28.3.  Encourage the augmentation of flows that enhance ecosystems, water quality, cultures and the sustainability of communities downstream.

29. Utilising pricing and taxation to address:

    29.1.  The ecological and social costs of water extraction and discharge;

    29.2.  The economic and social costs to current and future generations;

    29.3.  Distortions caused by inappropriate subsidies for agricultural water usage;

    29.4.  Financial gains attributable to public expenditure; and

    29.5.  The financial benefits contributed by ecosystem services.

30. Ensuring water utilities and associated infrastructure are publicly owned and controlled.

31. Managing communal and public water with full community participation, including First Nations communities, public education and public accountability.

32. Recognising local Government as a major stakeholder in the management of water which is the best placed level of government to understand the needs of the community and the environment.

33. Establishing independent public agencies to manage catchments and water that cross political boundaries.

34. Progressively phasing out inter-catchment transfers, such as by restoring flows to the Snowy River.

35. Mitigating flood risks without encouraging further development by prioritising cost-effective non-structural strategies for flood-risk management such as:

    35.1.  Flood proofing; raising buildings above the flood level;

    35.2.  Using systems to promote infiltration to the water table;

    35.3.  Enhancing flood preparedness;

    35.4.  Detaining stormwater;

    35.5.  Restoring natural off-stream flood storages such as wetlands and billabongs;

    35.6.  Encouraging the installation and use of household rainwater tanks; and

    35.7.  Requiring occupants of the floodplain to contribute to a fund for reducing flood damage cost through a socially equitable levy.

36. Restoring native vegetation, which helps increase rainfall, and slow salinisation and climate change.

37. Modifying existing stormwater networks or building new ones in accordance with the principles of Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD).


Coastal Management
Last Revised October 2021