Who manages NSW water

Both the New South Wales and federal governments are responsible for the effective management of water resources in NSW, which is crucial to the long-term future of our state.

There are several NSW agencies responsible for developing and implementing the regulatory framework for water management in regional NSW to achieve economic, social, cultural and environmental outcomes for the people of NSW.


Department of Industry—Lands & Water

Responsible for planning, policy development, and the regulatory frameworks for regional water in NSW.

Contact details: (02) 9338 6600 | industry.nsw.gov.au/water


Supplies and seeks to improve availability of water in NSW as the state’s bulk water supplier and system operator.

Contact details: 1300 662 077 | waternsw.com.au

Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR)

Responsible for compliance and enforcement of the water regulatory framework.

Contact details: 1800 633 362 | industry.nsw.gov.au/nrar

NSW Office of Environment & Heritage

Manages environmental water within NSW.

Contact details: 131 555 | environment.nsw.gov.au

As part of the NSW Government’s reforms to water management and regulation in NSW, there have been some changes in the roles and responsibilities for the licensing and compliance of water use in NSW. The NRAR is now responsible for compliance and enforcement activities throughout NSW. The NRAR is directed by an independent board and sits within the NSW Department of Industry.

You can find a summary of the licensing and compliance activities of the Department of Industry, WaterNSW and the NRAR in the brochure:


Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA)

  • 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

Visit Murray Darling Basin Authority

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

Visit Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder

Department of Agriculture and Water Resources

  • 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
  • Administers the key Commonwealth funding programs relevant to water management reforms

Visit the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources


Department of Industry—Lands & Water

  • Responsible for surface and groundwater management including ensuring water security for NSW
  • Ensures equitable sharing of surface and groundwater resources and that water entitlements and allocations are secure and tradeable
  • Manages NSW’s water resources through planning, policy and regulation
  • Leads negotiations with the Commonwealth, including the MDBA and other jurisdictions

Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR)

  • A new organisation to become operational in 2018
  • Responsible for compliance and enforcement of NSW water law with powers for investigations and other strategies as part of providing quality regulation
  • Determines when to commence prosecutions or uses other enforcement tools in the event of non compliance
  • Other functions include:
    • preparing policies and procedures relating to the enforcement powers under natural resources management legislation
    • advising and reporting to the Minister on matters relating to administration of natural resources management legislation
    • publishing details of convictions in prosecutions
  • The NRAR will initially focus on water regulation, but as it matures other prescribed natural resource management areas may be added

Visit NRAR


  • The state's bulk water supplier and operational manager of surface water and groundwater resources
  • Develops and operates infrastructure solutions for water supply security and reliability
  • Conducts customer facing functions such as the delivery of water and billing

Visit WaterNSW

Office of Environment & Heritage

  • Manages the state’s environmental water holdings
  • Develops a long term environmental watering plan as required under the Basin Plan

Visit Office of Environment & Heritage