Greater Sydney Desalination Program

Greater Sydney Desalination Program

Water is our most precious resource. Our future depends on how we manage it, together.

Greater Sydney’s experience with severe drought and intense rain shows how quickly our water supply can deplete and replenish. Had the recent drought conditions continued, there would have been limited time to secure the water supplies in Greater Sydney including the Illawarra.

WaterNSW, Sydney Water and the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment – Water are working together in planning 20 years into the future by developing the Greater Sydney Water Strategy. This strategy will help us respond and adapt quickly so that we have a secure, sustainable water supply for the future.

The Greater Sydney Desalination Program is investigating new rainfall independent drinking water supply options for the future.

Under the Greater Sydney Desalination Program, preliminary investigations are underway to further explore additional seawater desalination options that can provide future safe and secure supplies of drinking water firstly in the Illawarra, then for Greater Sydney.

WaterNSW, Sydney Water and the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment – Water are working together to develop a 20 year strategy which is integrated, resilient, adds economic value and is affordable.

Greater Sydney, including the Illawarra, are key contributors to the Australian and NSW economies.

Greater Sydney is now a global city with a high reputation for livability and a cultural diversity that attracts international investment and appeals to visitors. The NSW Department of Industry estimated Sydney’s economy accounts for almost a quarter of Australia’s Gross Domestic Product and 70 per cent of the NSW economy.

Greater Sydney currently has around five million people and this is expected to grow to 6.4 million by 2036. People in a growing city will need water for drinking, cooking, washing, making products, producing food, fighting fires, keeping cool, watering gardens and for recreational activities.

It is estimated that in 2017, the Illawarra contributed more than $16 billion to the state’s economy. Major metropolitan centres, like the Illawarra, need water supply certainty so that businesses can continue to invest, plan ahead, generate economic growth and increase local employment.

The Greater Sydney Water Strategy will consider a range of water management security options and infrastructure – all designed to benefit the community and protect the environment.

Desalination - A safe, secure, supply

Turning seawater into drinking water is a tried and tested technology that would mean future water supplies in Greater Sydney will be less affected by natural water quality and rainfall variations, the influence of changes in climate and importantly, better protected against future droughts.

Once desalinated, the water is treated to meet Australian drinking water standards and NSW Health requirements. This means the quality of water sourced from desalination will be as good to use as the water from all other sources in the Sydney Catchment.

If included in the NSW Governments Greater Sydney Water Strategy, the program will contribute to broader water security across the region, alongside dams, water efficiency and water reuse projects and will support meeting our future water needs.

The Greater Sydney Water Strategy will lay the foundation for our water future.

The Greater Sydney Desalination Program Team will still complete detailed environmental assessments and engage with the community before the NSW Government makes major decisions about infrastructure.

The first stage of the Greater Sydney Desalination Program involves the early design and preliminary environmental assessment work. This early planning work for the Greater Sydney Desalination Program includes the identification of potential sites for new desalination infrastructure, pipeline routes and appropriate connection points into the water supply network.

Decisions on planning approvals and whether to proceed to construction have not been made. These will be carefully considered by the NSW Government once the preliminary planning and investigative works are complete and the Greater Sydney Water Strategy has been completed later this year.

GSDP Timeline

Contact us

For more information please contact us on:

Phone: 1800 333 626



Saturday 24 October
2,415,570 ML
2,581,850 ML
10,111 ML
1,445 ML
-7,153 ML
Saturday 24 October