Shoalhaven Catchment

My part of the catchment

The Shoalhaven catchment covers 5,640 square kilometres - more than one-third of Sydney's drinking water catchment. The Shoalhaven River runs through the heart of the catchment, from the fine wool country around Braidwood in the south-west to the lush rainforests of Kangaroo Valley in the north-east.

The region is well-known for its fresh produce sourced from local farms and dairies, and for its beef cattle, wool and other agriculture essential to the NSW economy.

Cattle and sheep grazing is the largest single land use. The catchment also supports horse studs, piggeries, dairies and poultry production as well as vineyards, olive groves, and canola and cereal crops.

Cleared grazing land covers 36 percent of the catchment, along with large areas of national parks (31 percent) and forests (27 percent). Rainfall generally increases from the south-west near Cooma to the north-east near Robertson.

Parts of the catchments of Tallowa Dam and Fitzroy Falls Reservoir are protected as Special Areas, which means that public access is restricted. Special Areas protect water quality by providing buffer zones of pristine bushland around dams and immediate catchment areas.

Your water supply

Lake Yarrunga, formed by Tallowa Dam at the junction of the Shoalhaven and Kangaroo rivers, is the centrepiece of the region's water supply.

Tallowa Dam is unique for its massive mechanical fish lift which transports fish over the dam wall. By allowing migration between the lower and upper Shoalhaven River, the lift helps protect 10 native fish species.

Tallowa Dam, Bendeela Pondage, and nearby Fitzroy Falls and Wingecarribee reservoirs, linked by a series of pipelines, canals and pumping stations, are collectively known as the Shoalhaven Scheme, an innovative water supply system built in the 1970s to top up the Sydney and Illawarra water supplies. The scheme also supplies local communities including Goulburn.

Water released from Tallowa Dam into the Shoalhaven River is used by Shoalhaven City Council to supply Nowra. Wingecarribee Reservoir supplies Bowral and Mittagong in the adjoining Warragamba catchment. Kangaroo Valley township is supplied from Shoalhaven City Council's treatment plant, which draws water from Bendeela Pondage.

During a drought, water from the Shoalhaven Scheme can be fed into Warragamba Dam and the Upper Nepean dams to top-up the Sydney and Illawarra water supplies.

In the area

Bendeela Recreational Area

Bendeela is a rustic camping and picnic ground set in natural bushland on the banks of the Kangaroo River arm of Lake Yarrunga (Tallowa Dam), near Kangaroo Valley village.

Fitzroy Falls Reservoir

Fitzroy Falls and Wingecarribee reservoirs have relatively small catchment areas totalling only 70 square kilometres. Water pumped from the Shoalhaven Scheme is mostly collected from the Tallowa Dam catchment of 5,750 square kilometres.

Tallowa Dam

Tallowa Dam is the centrepiece of the Shoalhaven system which provides water to the Shoalhaven and Southern Highlands regions, and a back-up to the Sydney and Illawarra water supplies.

Wingecarribee Reservoir

The reservoir supplies the nearby towns of Bowral and Mittagong, and is part of the Shoalhaven Scheme which during drought also tops up Sydney and Illawarra water supplies. Goulburn can also be supplied with water from Wingecarribee Reservoir.

Click on your local council area to find out how it sits in the Shoalhaven catchment

Living in the area

Developers & Council

Learn about the best approaches for managing stormwater during and after construction - for a home site or large development.

Developers & Council

Find out how you can look after your property at the same time as caring for your local catchment and waterways.

Developers & Council

Get practical tips on onsite wastewater systems - whether you have just moved to a property or are installing a new system.

Land management in action

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The multi-generational farming family

Man in paddock
Open video

The farm manager

Cows
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The hobby farmer

Lady with alpaca
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61.1
Friday 14 December
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1,577,985 ML
2,581,850 ML
11,682 ML
1,669 ML
-4,818 ML
Friday 14 December