Water (Urban)


The Greens NSW believe:

1. All people have the right to clean water supplied and managed in an ecologically sustainable and socially just manner.

2. Urban water management must address the increasingly extreme conditions to be expected as climate change progresses.

3. Municipal water services and infrastructure are an essential public good that should be under public or communal ownership and control. They must not be exploited for profit.

4. Water rules should support and encourage people to collect and manage their own water needs.

5. Urban water supply, drainage and sewerage systems are interrelated parts of natural water catchments and must be sustainably managed within these catchments.

6. Urban wastewater management must focus on conservation, efficiency, treatment and reuse rather than on transport and discharge to environment.

7. Investment in large-scale water infrastructure, such as dams and desalination should occur only after all lower environmental impact, lower cost and lower economic risk options such as water efficiency, conservation and local recycling have been fully developed.

8. All decision making relating to water management must be coupled with full community participation and public accountability.

9. The pricing of water use, treatment and discharge must take into account the full social, environmental and economic costs at each stage of the water cycle.

10. Planning and management of all aspects of urban water must be coupled with land use planning and management.

11. Water should be used efficiently and recycled where practicable to reduce what is taken from the natural environment.

12. Water catchments and underground water reserves must be protected from the damaging effects of any mining or extractive industries.


The Greens NSW will work towards:

13. Restoring and maintaining public ownership, control and maintenance of municipal water supply and sewerage infrastructure and services, including the outsourcing of public private partnerships. Privatisation of any of these must be opposed;

14. Reforming the management culture of all NSW urban water supply authorities to prioritise environmental and social objectives, including one of waste approaching zero by reducing demand and enhancing recycling.

15. Ensuring the regulation of water pricing that:

15.1. Takes into account the full costs, including environmental and ecological cost, of the supply of fresh water and the treatment of wastewater and sewerage; and

15.2. Keeps the supply of fresh water affordable to all people in the community.

16. Ensuring monitoring and reporting of water quality in urban water supply systems reflects chemical and pollutant risks and is communicated to the public in a transparent and accountable way.

17. High-priority real-time monitoring of public and communal wastewater systems to inhibit the illegal inflow of rainwater and harmful chemicals.

A. Supply and demand management

18. Establishing least-cost planning to redirect funding towards investment in water conservation and localised water-reclamation programs and away from the expansion of water-supply infrastructure such as dams, desalination plants and end-of-pipe recycling schemes.

19. Prioritising demand-side management models to maximise the efficient use of existing water storages and reduce additional supply infrastructure costs including for new dams, dam capacity increases and desalination.

20. Phasing out transfers of water supplies across water catchments.

21. Opposing raising the Warragamba dam wall (and other dams) and promoting alternatives for meeting Sydney’s water demands and flood-risk management.

22. Establishing appropriate restrictions on rate of urban groundwater extractions so that it does not exceed the rate of replenishment;

23. Mandating water efficiency standards for residential, commercial and industrial developments while ensuring adequate support for low income households to meet water efficiency standards.

24. Developing local planning instruments and government policies that remove barriers to and encourage reduction in water demand, such as for:

24.1. The installation of dry-composting systems and on-site grey-water-treatment systems technology where appropriate;

24.2. Endemic native and low-water-use plantings in all urban areas;

24.3. Residential, commercial and industrial water-tank installations;

24.4. Harvesting urban stormwater for local non-potable use;

24.5. High levels of water efficiency and on-site recycling in industry and the use of non-potable sources.

B. Environmental Management

25. Encouraging a shared community focus in which individuals, institutions and businesses minimise run-off and manage pollutants at their source through better land use planning, waste minimisation and clean production strategies.

26. Strengthening regulations to prevent pollution of water in catchments used for urban water supply.

27. Supporting community education programs to keep nutrients and pollutants (for example cigarette butts, pet faeces, garden waste) out of urban water runoff.

28. Encouraging inter-agency and inter-government cooperation in wastewater and stormwater management to reduce stormwater infiltration to sewers, and thus its downstream impacts on cost and pollution.

29. Given the impacts on waste water management from phosphate based agri-chemicals, ending their sale in NSW.

30. Given the impacts on waste water management from phosphate based cleaning chemicals, ending their sale in NSW.

31. Widening environment protection legislation to include improving environmental benefits of water release from dams and manipulation of environmental water flows in rivers.

32. Promoting multi-level off-takes to large storage dams so that the quality and temperatures of releases are as close to natural as possible.

33. Restoring and boosting funding for household-water recycling programs and school-based environmental awareness programs such as Streamwatch.

34. Finding ways to repair the damage done by long wall coal mining to the river sources and swamps that are at the head of several water-supply catchments, e.g. the feed into Warragamba Reservoir.

C. Wastewater reduction and management

35. Minimising sewage flows by reducing water use and encouraging on-site wastewater management.

36. Creating incentives for localised sewage treatment, and for the non-polluting use of water and sludge from sewage treatment plants.

37. Phasing out all wastewater discharge into the environment which is untreated or only partially treated.

38. Strengthening sewage treatment to standards that do not pollute the environment.

39. Supporting initiatives that maximise the recovery of suspended solids and sludge during sewage treatment and their most environmentally responsible and beneficial use.

40. Phasing out all sewage ocean outfalls.