Shoalhaven

Key catchment Shoalhaven

The Shoalhaven catchment is located in the New South Wales upper south coast and has an area of 7,300 square kilometres.

Major towns

Nowra, Bomaderry, Braidwood and Berry.

Rivers and tributaries

The Shoalhaven River has four main tributaries, the Mongarlowe, Corang, Endrick and Kangaroo Rivers, and is highly valued for its wild and scenic attributes. Other tributaries include the Ettrema, Boro, Reedy, Danjerra, Yalwal, Broughton, Broughton Mill and Yarrunga Creeks.

The Shoalhaven River flows through a large coastal floodplain before entering the Pacific Ocean at Shoalhaven Heads.

Real-time flow data

The department monitors the condition of river systems in NSW and provides regular updates on water levels, rainfall, water temperature and electrical conductivity.

View real-time data from Shoalhaven River Basin on this website.

Major water storage

The Shoalhaven catchment's only large water storage is Tallowa Dam with a capacity of 110,200 megalitres.

Major water users

Sydney Catchment Authority, Shoalhaven Water, local councils, tourism, diary farming and fishing. The tidal sections of the river support a significant oyster industry.

Key water management issues

Tallowa Dam is part of the Greater Sydney water supply system owned and operated by the Sydney Catchment Authority. It provides water to Shoalhaven Water for local town water supply and is transferred to Sydney to generate hydro-electric power and supplement Sydney's water supply in times of drought.

Aside from the Tallowa Dam system, which includes Fitzroy Falls Dam, there are no large water storages in the Shoalhaven River Basin and it is considered an unregulated system. Flows are only likely to be adversely affected during relatively dry times, when water is low and demand is high.

Key water management issues include:

  • Water sharing with Greater Sydney
  • Water quality – pollution and weed growth
  • Riverbank management – rural development
  • Environmental water – sufficient flows and freshes to maintain river health.

Environmental values

The department developed new environmental flow rules for the lower Shoalhaven River that ensure more water is reserved for river health and better mimic the natural river flow.

Water sharing plans

To preserve water resources in river and groundwater systems for the long term it is critical to balance the competing needs of the environment and water users. Water sharing plans establish rules for sharing water between the environmental needs of the river or aquifer and water users, and also between different types of water use such as town supply, rural domestic supply, stock watering, industry and irrigation.

Water sharing plans in this catchment

  • Greater Metropolitan Region Groundwater
  • Greater Metropolitan Region Unregulated

Visit water sharing plans for a status update.

Under the Water Management Act 2000 all water sharing plans are required to have performance indicators to assess whether the plans have been effective in meeting their objectives. The Environmental flow response and socio-economic monitoring. Greater Metropolitan - progress report 2010 ((PDF 3.4 MB)) summarises activities undertaken in the previous water year and provides an interim assessment of outcomes from the investigations.