How drought is managed

Learn about the NSW Government departments and agencies that collaborate on drought issues and response, and their responsibilities.

Support and advice to primary producers

Drought management, preparedness and recovery

Department of Primary Industries (Agriculture) produces drought maps and provides advice to farmers on drought management, preparations and recovery.

The Department of Primary Industries (DPI) works to drive stronger primary industries in NSW. The department manages a broad range of initiatives from resource to industry including natural resource management, research and development, pest and disease management, food safety, industry engagement, and market access and competition.

Contact the Department of Primary Industries (DPI)

Visit DroughtHub

Local on the ground advice

Local Land Services (LLS) provides on the ground advice to farmers and landholders and works to secure the future of agriculture and the environment for NSW communities.

Local people work in local communities to deliver services that are shaped for each community, industry and landscape. Staff work with land managers and community groups to connect information, support and funding, to improve agricultural productivity and better manage our natural resources.

Contact Local Land Services

NSW Government financial assistance programs

The Rural Assistance Authority (RAA) administers financial assistance programs including transport subsidies for animal welfare and natural disasters to primary producers on behalf of the NSW Government.

They also administer loans to drought-affected primary producers and small business operators.

Contact the Rural Assistance Authority

Habitat protection

Fish habitat protection, rehabilitation and fish deaths

Department of Primary Industries (DPI) (Fisheries) supports economic growth and sustainable access to aquatic resources through commercial and recreational fisheries management, research, aquaculture development, habitat protection and rehabilitation, regulation, compliance and reports and reacts to fish deaths.

Learn more about the NSW Native Fish Drought Response 2019/2020.

Contact a DPI Fisheries Officer

Water management

Water entitlements and allocations

Department of Planning and Environment - Water determines water allocations, imposes temporary (system) water restrictions, sets policy, develops water sharing plans, provides hydrogeological expertise for groundwater trades and bore applications, provides technical and financial assistance for town water supply providers.

Contact the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment - Water

Water storages, licences and water quality monitoring

WaterNSW operates the water storages, monitors flows and groundwater levels and water quality, liaises directly with water customers, licences most water users, assesses and approves surface water trades and bills water customers.

WaterNSW manage a complex network of dams, storages and pipelines to supply water to its customers.

Greater Sydney water supply

Regional NSW water supply

Contact WaterNSW

How to help stop illegal water activities

Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) licences major water users including other NSW Government agencies, local councils, mining companies, irrigation corporations, schools and hospitals.

NRAR enforces compliance with licence conditions and temporary water restrictions.

How to help stop illegal water activities

While most water users follow the rules and meet the legal requirements defined in NSW water laws, some people carry out illegal water activities. Sometimes these alleged breaches of water law are deliberate and sometimes they happen out of ignorance of the law.

Water theft and harming a water source can threaten water supplies for legitimate water users and harm the environment. These are serious crimes.

Report suspicious water activities to NRAR by phone, email or online.

Water for the environment

Department of Planning and Environment - Environment, Energy and Science (EES) advises on releases of planned environmental water, holds water licences for environmental purposes, works with Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder on use of its water licences for environmental purposes.

Learn more about water for the environment

Australian Government water agencies

Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA)

With the enactment of the Water Act 2007, the Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) was established as an independent expertise-based statutory agency.

  • responsible for planning the basin’s water resources, with all planning decisions made in the interest of the basin as a whole
  • prepares, implements and reviews integrated plans for the sustainable use of the basin’s water resources
  • operates the Murray River system and efficiently delivers water to users on behalf of partner governments, as well as measuring, monitoring and recording the quality and quantity of the basin’s water resources
  • provides water rights information to facilitate water trading across the basin


Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder

The Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder manages the Commonwealth’s environmental water holdings so as to protect or restore environmental assets in the Murray Darling Basin and in other areas where environmental water is held


Department of Agriculture and Water Resources

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources is responsible for the management and use of water resources including National Water Initiative, the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, urban water policy and reform, and water quality improvement.

This Department also administers the key Commonwealth funding programs relevant to water management reforms.

Australian Government drought response

Assistance to farmers and rural communities

The Australian Government provides assistance to help farm families, farm businesses and rural communities to prepare for, manage through and recover fro​m drought.


FarmHub, an Australian Government initiative, connects Australian farmers to a range of helpful services and support.

Future Drought Fund

The Future Drought Fund will provide secure, continuous funding for drought resilience initiatives. It will help Australian farms and communities prepare to respond to the impacts of drought.

The Fund begins with an initial credit of $3.9 billion. Earnings will be reinvested until the balance reaches $5 billion (expected in 2028-29). From 1 July 2020, $100 million will be made available each year to support Australian farmers and communities. They will use these funds to prepare for, and become resilient to, the effects of inevitable future drought.

Drought Response, Resilience and Preparedness Plan
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