At the source of the state’s water

We're at the source, not the taps

Around 8 million people across the state use water supplied by WaterNSW. But where does this water come from?

While some people will be familiar with the larger dams we operate like Warragamba and Burrendong, many are surprised to know WaterNSW actually operates 41 major dams in NSW, delivering two thirds of all water used in the state.

We capture and store water in these dams which is then delivered to our customers such as Sydney Water and local councils, to treat and supply water to households across Greater Sydney and regional NSW respectively.

In this sense, we’re at the source of the state’s water – we’re not at the taps.

Our customers also include farmers, irrigators, industry, small family businesses and environmental water holders like the state and Australian governments, who use our water to protect ecosystems and keep rivers flowing.

Maintaining the essential infrastructure of our dams, as well as hundreds of waterways across NSW, is an immense responsibility. We use our expertise and knowledge of nature, science and engineering to capture and store our most vital natural resource and effectively deliver water around the clock for the people and businesses of NSW.

Our dams provide more than water security to the people of NSW. The natural beauty of our dams and catchments is a drawcard for many locals who visit to relax in nature, picnic with their families or, in regional areas, enjoy outdoor water and recreational activities.

Some communities also have an interest in and close ties to the history of our dams, especially if they have relatives or know long-time residents who contributed to their construction.

Celebrating dam anniversaries

Our Cataract, Glennies Creek and Toonumbar Dams supply water to NSW regions far and wide and despite their distance, they all have one thing in common – this month they are celebrating an anniversary.

Cataract Dam opened on 10 June 1908. It is one the most picturesque dams in the state, as well as one of the oldest. At the time of its construction, Cataract Dam was the biggest engineering project undertaken in the county. This year, the dam turns 116!

Glennies Creek Dam is located near Singleton and was built in the 1980s to meet increased water demand in the Hunter region for agriculture, industry and local towns. The dam officially opened in June 1983 and has since become a popular recreation destination. The dam may also have an important role to play in the near-future as the site of a proposed renewable energy project by Upper Hunter Hydro, alongside Glenbawn Dam.

Meanwhile, Toonumbar Dam is NSW’s most northern dam, situated in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range near Casino and Lismore. It officially opened in June 1972.

We’re proud to be at the source of the state’s water and celebrating the dams and waterways across the state, which support the resilience of NSW.

Cataract Dam wall

Published date: 24 June 2024

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WaterNSW acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands and waters on which we work and pay our respects to all elders past, present and emerging. Learn more