The Water NSW Act 2014 states the objectives and functions of WaterNSW. A principal objective of WaterNSW is to ensure that declared catchment areas and water management works in such areas are managed and protected to so as to promote water quality, the protection of public health and public safety, and the protection of the environment. Functions of WaterNSW include:
- To manage and protect declared catchment areas and water management works vested in or under the control of Water NSW that are used within or for the purposes of such areas
- To protect and enhance the quality and quantity of water in declared catchment areas
- To undertake research on catchments generally, and on the health of declared catchment areas.
Key terms as follows are defined in the Water NSW Act 2014:
- Catchment health, in relation to a declared catchment area, means the condition of ecosystems and systems of management (such as sewerage and stormwater systems) in that catchment that protect water quality
- Catchment management means the management of land and water resources in a declared catchment area
- Catchment audit means an audit carried out under Section 42 of the Act
At this time the only declared catchment area is the Sydney catchment area.
WaterNSW is required to incorporate the findings of catchment audits, to the extent to which they relate to the activities of WaterNSW and water quality, into WaterNSW’s risk framework, and WaterNSW’s programs and activities relating to catchment management. WaterNSW is also required to report to the Minister on WaterNSW’s progress to achieve improvements in catchment health and to maintain existing catchment health, having regard to the findings of the previous catchment audit.
Within the Sydney catchment area there are declared Special Areas. WaterNSW and the Office of Environment and Heritage, on behalf of the Minister and the Minister for the Environment, are required to prepare plans of management for Special Area. Once adopted WaterNSW and the Office of Environment and Heritage, on behalf of the Minister and the Minister for the Environment, are required to carry out and give effect to the plans.
WaterNSW has the following regulatory functions within the Sydney catchment area:
- Carry out a concurrence role pursuant to State Environmental Planning Policy (Sydney Drinking Water Catchment) 2011
- Carry out defined compliance roles pursuant to the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1998
- Power to issue catchment correction notices and catchment protection notices.