Droughts & floods
Drought is a fundamental part of the Australian landscape. With one of the most variable rainfall climates in the world, severe drought affects some part of Australia about once every 18 years. Time between severe droughts have varied from four to 38 years and the impacts of climate change will mean longer dry periods, particularly in inland areas of NSW.
Critical water planning
The department plays a vital role in managing, allocating and protecting the water resources of NSW. This is especially important during extreme events such as droughts or poor water quality events.
As a drought becomes more severe, the available water is managed to prioritise critical human water needs and in accordance with NSW water sharing priorities. The department works in partnership with local water utilities in regional NSW to manage town water supplies during drought.
The Minister may also restrict the use of surface or groundwater (by order under section 324 of the Water Management Act 2000) to cope with a water shortage or threat to public health or safety.
For the latest information visit our Drought update page.
Water availability during high flows or flood
During periods of high flow, water is shared in accordance with the water sharing plan.
In the case of very high and flood flows, WaterNSW works with the State Emergency Service to manage flows and provide timely information to affected communities.
Monitoring water during flood
Collecting and sharing data plays an important role in day-to-day water management activities across the state. During flood events this role becomes even more critical for flood forecasting and flood management.
WaterNSW manages over 700 telemetered water monitoring sites. This network is a critical element in decision making by key agencies such as Bureau of Meteorology and the State Emergency Services.
Learn more about WaterNSW water monitoring.