Water management is an essential part of rural living. Efficient use of water can minimise costs and maximise the benefit to you, your property and downstream users.

Maintaining sufficient groundcover and effective riparian buffers is crucial steps to reducing erosion, maintaining good water quality in waterways.

In addition, rivers and creeks are vital living ecosystems that carry water from catchments into estuaries and oceans. They support thousands of species of fish, frogs, aquatic plants and insects, while yielding water for drinking, agriculture, industry and recreation.

Water extracted from rivers contributes to the economic wealth of the region, but extracting too much water may have severe impacts on aquatic ecosystems, especially during periods of drought, so it’s important this is managed effectively.

Natural aquatic ecosystems have adapted over tens of thousands of years to natural flow regimes. Water extraction should not compromise the basic ecosystem processes supported by these regimes.

Our core programs and activities related to aquatic ecosystem conservation and management are:

  • regional and sub-catchment NRM planning, including climate change mitigation and aquatic ecosystem adaption options
  • knowledge generation, collation and exchange to ensure that sound scientific knowledge and principles are applied to achieve fully functioning and productive landscapes
  • promotion of aquatic ecosystem conservation practices and capacity building to encourage collaboration and shared responsibility
  • development and delivery of regional aquatic ecosystem restoration and rehabilitation programs
  • monitoring, evaluation, reporting and improvement.


Wetlands are a community of plants and animals that relies wholly or partly on water to survive and are environmentally, culturally and historically important to the NSW region. About 4.5 million ha, or six per cent of NSW, is classified as wetlands.

There are a number of threats to wetlands including vegetation clearing, draining, overgrazing by livestock, contamination from excessive pesticide and fertiliser use, the presence of pest animals and plants such as carp, pigs and willows and the expansion of urban areas.

What can I do to protect wetlands?

You can support healthy wetlands in a variety of ways:

  • minimise disturbance to wetlands on your property
  • erect fences to manage stock access to wet areas
  • establish a buffer zone between your wetland and grazing or cropping land
  • practice conservation farming techniques, including good chemical management
  • form or join a community group to care for a wetland near your town or city
  • avoid clearing dead wood and trees from wetlands as they provide valuable native habitat
  • monitor the wetland area for weeds and pest animals regularly
  • restore wetlands and natural water flows, communicating your plans with your local community where possible
  • encourage native vegetation to grow in and around wetlands
  • allow low-lying back swamps to fill and drain naturally so they can provide productive native grazing species such as water couch
  • organise regular clean-up activities at your local wetland.

For more information regarding the management and maintenance of wetlands, contact your Local Land Services office.

Gully erosion

There is much to consider for landholders and community members when it comes to gully erosion. Erosion is a natural process which has over time, shaped the landscape features seen today.

While gully erosion often begins as a small 'nick point' and can seem inconsequential, it has the potential to be very damaging to the local environment, primary production, infrastructure and general access, over an extended period of time.

We have developed a gully erosion and assessment control guide to assist landholders and community members to understand gully erosion and follow best practice to mitigate the impacts of erosion. Find out more about gully erosion via our Gully Erosion Assessment and Control Guide.

Water law

When it comes to the regulation and management of water in NSW, WaterNSW is responsible for :

  • managing access to water
  • ensuring equitable sharing of water
  • applications for licences and other approvals (such as building structures in streams)
  • investigating illegal activity.

Relevant legislation includes the Water Management Act 2000, the Water Management Regulation 2011 and the Water Management Amendment Act 2014.

There are three types of basic landholder rights in NSW under the Water Management Act 2000:

  1. Domestic and stock rights
  2. Native title rights
  3. Harvestable rights.

For further information regarding these basic landholder rights and management of water in NSW, visit the WaterNSW website.

Find out more about how water is managed in NSW.

Related information