Warragamba Catchment

My part of the catchment

Warragamba is the largest of Sydney's five drinking water catchments, covering an area of 9,050 square kilometres. It's also the most diverse, with coal-fired power stations in the north, pristine wilderness in the centre of the catchment, and rich grazing country in the south.

Bordered on the west by the Great Dividing Range, the catchment stretches from north of Lithgow at the head of the Coxs River in the Blue Mountains, to the source of the Wollondilly River west of Crookwell, and south of Goulburn along the Mulwaree River.

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

More than one-quarter of the catchment is covered by the Warragamba Special Area. Protected from most human activities for over 70 years, this 2,600 square kilometre area is an important habitat for the spotted-tail (or tiger) quoll, eastern pygmy possum, Rosenberg's goanna and three threatened species of owls. With 75 types of eucalypts, the region also has the highest diversity of eucalypts in the world.

Most of the land within the Warragamba Special Area is also national parks (Blue Mountains, Kanangra Boyd, Nattai and Thirlmere Lakes) and state conservation areas and nature reserves (Burragorang, Yerranderie, Nattai and Wollondilly River). Special Areas protect water quality by providing buffer zones of pristine bushland around dams and immediate catchment areas.

In the north of the catchment, the largest towns are Oberon, Wallerawang, Lithgow and Katoomba. In the south, the main population centres are Goulburn, Bowral and Mittagong.

Your water supply

The western slopes are susceptible to drought, but the catchment's sheer size allows for substantial inflows to Lake Burragorang, the lake formed by Warragamba Dam. Created by damming the Warragamba River and flooding the Burragorang Valley, the lake is more than four times the size of Sydney Harbour and one of the world's largest domestic water supply dams.

Completed in 1960, Warragamba Dam today supplies water to more than 3.7 million people living in greater Sydney. Water flows by gravity through two pipelines to Prospect water filtration plant, which supplies 80 percent of Sydney. The dam also feeds water to smaller filtration plants at Warragamba and at Orchard Hills, which supplies residents of Penrith and the lower Blue Mountains.

Many residents within the Warragamba catchment are actually supplied with water from other areas.  Residents in Bowral and Mittagong are supplied with water from Wingecarribee Reservoir, part of the Shoalhaven Scheme. Wingecarribee Reservoir can also top up Goulburn's water supply during drought, via an emergency pipeline.  Residents of Katoomba and the upper to middle mountains are supplied with water from the Blue Mountains catchment, and along with Lithgow and Wallerawang, their water supply can be topped up from the Fish River Scheme near Oberon.

In the area

Burragorang Lookout

A 40 minute drive from Warragamba Dam, Burragorang Lookout is perched on a Nattai clifftop and offers panoramic scenic views of Lake Burragorang.

Eighteenth St Warragamba Lookout

A few minutes drive from Warragamba Dam through the Warragamba township, the Eighteenth St Street Lookout provides a direct view of the dam wall and spillway.

Prospect Dam

Located about 35 kilometres west of Sydney, Prospect Reservoir was completed in 1888 as part of the Upper Nepean Scheme to supply Sydney with water collected from the weirs on the Illawarra Plateau south of the city.

Warragamba Dam

Warragamba Dam supplies water to more than 3.7 million people living in Sydney and the lower Blue Mountains. Just a one hour drive from Sydney's CBD, the dam is a popular place to visit and picnic.

Warragamba Dam Visitor Centre

The visitor centre boasts sweeping views of the dam wall and Lake Burragorang, children's activities, interactive displays and videos, and friendly staff to answer your questions.

Water for Life exhibition

The permanent exhibition at the Warragamba Dam Visitor Centre tells the story of Sydney's dams and catchments, and the history and future of Sydney's water supply.

Click on your local council area to find out how it sits in the Warragamba 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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Caring for the quiet beast

Warragamba Dam
Open video

The multi-generational farming family

Man in paddock
Open video

The hobby farmer

Lady with alpaca
Open video

The farm manager

Cows
Open video
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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