Heritage and history

Timeline take a journey through time button

WaterNSW and its predecessor organisations have been supplying water for over 130 years.

As a result of this rich history, WaterNSW today manages a diverse range of cultural heritage items, including dams and associated infrastructure, weirs, homesteads, regulators and bridges.

The history of Greater Sydney's water supply is a fascinating and often dramatic story as our engineers and city planners worked to adapt to a rapidly growing population and regular droughts ever since 1788.

Dip into the Sydney water story with the water supply timeline

You can find a full listing of these items which have State or local significance on the heritage and conservation register.

Contact our customer helpdesk if you have any questions or feedback on aspects of our water history.


Take a journey in time - water supply 1778 to now

The British settled Australia in January 1788. Some 859 convicts, soldiers, and administrators set up camp around the stream that emptied into Sydney Cove.

Warragamba Dam builders
Our dam histories

We manage a collection major water supply dams – each with their own unique and fascinating story.

Cordeaux Dam
Water schemes

Read about the need and construction of water schemes for Greater Sydney

Upper Nepean Scheme workers
Our natural heritage

Wingecarribee Swamp is left over from the last ice age. It is listed as an endangered ecological community, contains a rich array of water and bog plants, some of which are endangered and vulnerable, and several indigenous and non-indigenous heritage sites.

Wingecarribee Dam
Heritage register

WaterNSW manages a diverse range of cultural heritage assets, including dams and associated infrastructure, weirs, homesteads, derelict mines and bridges. A number of these sites are heritage listed and we keep a register of heritage items known as a heritage and conservation register to assist in managing and maintaining these assets.

Cataract Dam


Thursday 11 August
2,586,549 ML
2,618,706 ML
7,915 ML
1,131 ML
-7,208 ML
Thursday 11 August