Building knowledge and improving decision making.

Our science and research program

Providing a better understanding of our risks and opportunities.

WaterNSW is required to undertake research on catchments generally, and in particular on the health of declared catchment areas. This research helps us manage and protect water quality in the Greater Sydney drinking water catchment.

Our scientific research priorities are set out in the WaterNSW Science Program 2020-2025. The program has two core research themes:

  • Catchment Resilience – understanding how catchment health and water quality work together to ensure a safe drinking water supply, and ensuring we have the knowledge to best manage and protect the catchments in a changing climate.
  • Integrated Water Management – understanding how environmental and supply change impacts water quality and quantity, and how we can improve water quantity without compromising water quality.

Our core research is supported by additional Science Program activities:

  • Risks and Opportunities – developing our agility to identify and address emerging risks and business improvement opportunities as they arise
  • Strategy and Communication – building effective relationships by consulting and communicating with customers and stakeholders, and by collaborative research engagement with other organisations
  • Science Advice – utilising the Water Quality Programs team’s scientific knowledge and skills to support other parts of the WaterNSW business

We set goals under our core research themes to capture the contemporary business needs of our research program.


Research goals

Catchment Resilience research goals

  • Current catchment health - reviewing and developing WaterNSW specific catchment health indicators, to better understand how the catchment is changing due to changes in climate and human activities
  • Future catchment health - identifying top risks to catchment health due to changes in climate and human activities
  • Fire - understanding impacts of wildfire on water quality and what is effective fire remediation to protect water quality
  • Drought - understanding the impacts of extended drought on catchment health and water quality
  • Mining - understanding the impacts of mining on catchment health and water quality

Integrated Water Management research goals

  • Lake ecology - understanding the relationship between lake ecology and water quality and the impact of supply security strategies
  • Water Quality Model - developing and improving inputs required for the WaterNSW Water Quality Model, supporting decision making and reducing uncertainty
  • Blue-green algae blooms – improving our understanding of cyanobacteria bloom formation and strain dominance to increase our ability to predict blooms
  • Blue-green algae monitoring - improving the efficiency of cyanobacteria monitoring

Progress against these Science program activities is reported under the Scientific Approach section of the Annual Catchment Management Report (PDF, 841.08 KB).

Research industry partnerships

Improving our knowledge base is a collaborative process. WaterNSW regularly connects with leading water quality researchers to improve our understanding of water quality risks and inform our management practices.

We are members of the Water Services Association of Australia and Water Research Australia and have active research collaborations with a number of universities.

Go to top

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