Water for the environment

The NSW Department of Planning and Environment manages a portfolio of water on behalf of the NSW Government to support the health of rivers, floodplains and wetlands across the state.

Why water for the environment is important

Water for the environment helps to restore a more natural flow regime to rivers, creeks and wetlands and is used to target specific outcomes for plants or animals by providing the right amount of water at the right time for them to feed, breed and grow.

It is a critical tool to support the health of rivers and wetlands and in doing so support the communities that rely on them.


The Department of Planning and Environment manages the delivery of water for the environment in NSW.

The Department consults with stakeholders including community groups, local landholders, scientists, Aboriginal organisations and government agencies to decide where and when environmental water is used. They form part of an environment water advisory group (EWAG) which meets regularly to discuss upcoming events, any issues or concerns, event outcomes and future opportunities.

In consultation with this advisory group,  annual and longer term watering plans are developed that consider water availability, climatic conditions, scientific research, ecological outcomes and stakeholder perspectives.

Delivering water for the environment

The Department of Planning and Environment has been working with local communities over many years to deliver water in five regulated river catchments - the Gwydir, Lachlan, Macquarie, Murray-Lower Darling and Murrumbidgee.

Discover the vital role environmental water plays in these valleys, the role of the local environmental water advisory group (EWAG) and the annual priorities each area has for using environmental water.

 Royal spoonbill (Platalea regia), large white waterbird

Educational resources and videos

Managing water for the environment is a complex process. To learn in more about how water for the environment is used and managed, download factsheets or watch videos.
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