Water (Urban)

Revised May 2014

This policy refers to the reticulated water supply such as services provided by Sydney Water, Hunter water, Central Coast water and other regional county councils supplying domestic water.


The Greens NSW believe:

1.Urban water management must recognise that the south east of Australia suffers extended periods of drought that are highly likely to be more frequent and severe as a result of global warming;

2. Securing both the natural environment and the supply of food is becoming an increasingly urgent task that requires the public interest to be protected;

3. All citizens have the right to access clean water, and its supply must therefore be managed in an ecologically sustainable and socially just manner;

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

5. Water catchments are to be managed for the long term sustainable support of urban life within their rich and diverse natural ecosystems. They must not be exploited for maximum short-term profit;

6. Water catchments must be managed sustainably within their own confines and transfers between catchments must over time be eliminated;

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

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

9. Water, and the infrastructure that delivers and disposes of it, must remain a public resource under public ownership and community control. Public private partnerships involving water-supply infrastructure and the outsourcing of any services including maintenance must be opposed;

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

11. 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;

12. As urban water pressures are in part driven by climate chang, it is unacceptable and ultimately self-defeating to meet short-term water scarcity by the use of energy-intensive water-extraction or treatment technologies that produce carbon emissions that in turn cause climate change. Energy-intensive desalination should be developed only when all other measures have been exhausted and populations face the loss of water supply;

13. A total water-cycle-management approach means that the allocation and use of water must be a fundamental determinant and ecological constraint on how land is used;

14. Water extraction from the natural environment should be minimised; and

15. Any expansion of the coal seam gas industry will adversely affects the local water catchment and will undermine public health and safety.


The Greens NSW will work to:

16. Ending Sydney's dependence on water extracted from the Shoalhaven River;

17. 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;

18. Encouraging on-site and locally based wastewater treatment and re-use where applicable to minimise energy costs in water treatment and transport;

19. Ensuring water authorities develop a true-cost, user- and polluter-pays pricing system that takes into account:

a. the environmental and ecological cost of water extraction and discharge;

b. the financial and quality of life costs imposed on current and future generations;

c. the full cost of water resources including marginal infrastructure costs; and

d. social equity in allocating water resources by ensuring all people, regardless of income, have ready access to sufficient clean water at an affordable cost;

20. Protecting native ecosystems and endemic aquatic flora and fauna by:

a. preventing the construction of new dams or the augmentation of existing dams that unnecessarily compromise the natural environment;

b. ensuring viable environmental water flows that mimic natural variability;

c. prohibiting any increase in inter-catchment water transfers; and

d. over time eliminating existing transfers;

21. Making use of all existing urban water storage infrastructure, by requiring the management authorities to adopt 'demand-side management' rather than 'supply-side management' throughout the El Nino and La Nina climate cycles so that dam storage levels are protected at all times and not just during drought conditions;

22. Preventing the pollution of groundwater from sources such as landfill, fuel storage tanks, contaminated recharging and mining-related activities;

23. Requiring that urban groundwater extraction must never exceed recharge rates and, where the quantity of the water resource has been substantially diminished, the use of the aquifer is to be restricted to enable recovery;

24. Increased sewage treatment to levels consistent with the non-polluted environment that receives any sewage discharge or the subsequent safe reuse of the discharge including sewage sludge;

25. Replacing, in the long term, dry weather sewage discharge into waterways (beyond ecological needs) with a decentralised treatment and recovery system in which water and nutrients are reused and solid and toxic contamination ended;

26. Minimising sewage flows by reducing water use, on-site grey water treatment, and non-aquatic technologies for handling human waste;

27. Phasing out all existing sewage ocean outfalls;

28. Requiring urban water authorities to take effective action to ensure that point-source pollution contribution to the Hawkesbury-Nepean system and other waterways, particularly as sewage discharge, is significantly reduced and ultimately eliminated;

29. Establishing an inter-agency approach covering both wastewater and stormwater to coordinate the reduction of sewage overflows by minimising stormwater infiltration; and

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

31. Maintain public ownership and control of all water and sewage infrastructure and services including maintenance;

32. Reform the management culture of all NSW water supplies to prioritise environmental and social objectives;

33. Oppose the development of any infrastructure that increases or facilitates transfer of water between catchments;

34. Develop a strategy to completely phase out Sydney’s dependence on extracting water from the Shoalhaven River;

35. Oppose the proposal to raise the Warragamba dam crest and instead call for options to be pursued that are cheaper, less damaging to the environment and more likely to protect human safety and minimise long term economic impacts;

36. Oppose any move to construct a desalination plant in the Hunter or to resurrect the proposal to construct Tillegra Dam and ensure that Hunter water implements the new Lower Hunter Water Plan that focuses on demand management and recycling;

37. Stop the construction of the proposed Byrrill Creek dam and require Tweed Council  and the NSW Department of Planning to mandate water self-sufficiency (recycled water, stormwater capture) in all large greenfield developments in Tweed Shire;

38. Stop the construction of Orange City Council’s Macquarie River pipeline;

39. Develop local planning instruments and government policies that encourage:

a. the installation of dry-composting systems and on-site grey-water-treatment systems technology where appropriate

b. endemic native and low-water-use plantings in all urban areas

c. residential, commercial and industrial water-tank installations

d. harvesting urban stormwater for local non-potable use

e. high levels of water efficiency and on-site recycling in industry and the use of non-potable sources;

40. Support reduced water demand by all water-users by:

a. creating incentives for the installation and use of water efficiency devises such as dual-flushing toilets and water-efficient shower and tap nozzles;

b. mandating 5-star-water-efficiency standards for all new water-use appliances with adequate subsidies available to ensure low-income households are not financially disadvantaged

c.  encouraging industrial processes that are low-net-water users with the ultimate aim of zero-water-waste emissions from industry by regulation, pricing and investment policies;

41. Promote full public reporting by industry of pollutants entering waterways;

42. Support a sustained capital works program to eliminate sewage overflows and infiltration problems;

43. Ensure that all stormwater infrastructure includes best-practice pollution minimisation devices;

44. Work towards reducing diffuse-source pollution of river systems by supporting well-resourced environmental protection authorities together with effective land management and development control measures;

45. Support reduced organics, paper and toxics in landfill as a water purity measure and, while seeking the remediation of existing sites, oppose the operation of landfills with a risk of leaching;

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

47. Support initiatives that maximise the recovery of all suspended solids and sludge during sewage treatment by:

a. requiring suitable post-treatment of all sewage sludge to minimise environmentally hazardous components;

b. prohibiting incineration as a method of sludge disposal and identifying environmentally sound ultimate disposal techniques for the toxic pollutant component;

c. requiring the maximum beneficial use for non-polluted sludge while observing appropriate ecological and catchment management concerns;

d. imposing high standards for licensing and monitoring of the use of sludge-based fertilisers and compost;

e. accelerating research and development of new uses for sludge including its appropriate role in non-edible crops, pastures, recreational lands, industry and agriculture; and

f. controlling source pollutants as the best means of improving sludge quality;

48. Work to ensure there is adequate routine monitoring of a range of biologically significant organic and inorganic chemicals in our urban water systems including heavy metals, pesticides, industrial residues, faecal indicators, pathogenic bacteria, viruses and protozoa;

49. Promote the use of non-phosphate-based cleaning agents;

50. Facilitate community-based programs for keeping nutrients from diffuse sources, such as detergent phosphates, garden waste and pet faeces, out of urban water run-off; and

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