River operations

Rivers are a vital part of our water supply system.

WaterNSW uses rivers to collect, store and release water

We effectively operate the state's regulated rivers to deliver water and manage river levels.

Rivers in NSW are categorised as regulated or unregulated. A regulated river is one that contains water storages in the form of dams and weirs, which means the river level and flow rate can be controlled or regulated by water being released from a storage. In contrast, an unregulated river does not contain any water storages and its level and flow rate cannot be controlled. A licence holder on an unregulated river does not need to order water before taking it, however, they must comply with their licence conditions such as the level of water required in the river for them to legally take water.

WaterNSW operates regulated rivers by releasing stored water from dams and weirs to fulfil customer orders, for the environment and, in regional NSW only, for flood mitigation purposes.

Our Water Delivery teams must release the right amount of water at the right time on any given day to fulfil customer orders. To do this they must factor in transmission losses, evaporation losses, weather forecasts and any other customer orders. They also model the amount of time it will take for the released water to arrive at the customer's extraction point, ensuring the customer’s water order is delivered on time.

Along with delivering water for our customers and the environment, WaterNSW actively monitors river systems checking river health, flow rates and any other essential information we can provide to our  stakeholders, local communities and regulators. To find out more, visit our monitoring and reporting page.

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WaterNSW acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands and waters on which we work and pay our respects to all elders past, present and emerging. Learn more