Key catchment Towamba Bakers Flat

Flowing through extensive parts of South East Forest National Park, Towamba River stretches some 86km in length continuing down to the northern boundary of Mount Imlay National Park and consists of 12 tributaries.


Towamba locality map

Towamba is located on the far south coast of New South Wales with a catchment area of about 2,345km2.

Major towns

The majority of the population is located within the coastal towns of Tathra, Merimbula, Pambula and Eden. The population of these towns increases several fold during summer holidays, creating a significant demand on town water supplies.

Rivers and tributaries

The Towamba River catchment is bound by the Bega catchment to the north, the Snowy catchment to the west and the Genoa catchment to the south.

Real-time data flows

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 the Towamba catchment on this website.

Major water storage

The Towamba River Basin is unregulated - there are no major storages to capture and control flows.

Major water users

Local water utilities, conservation, forestry and cattle grazing. The greatest agricultural demand for water is stock water and small scale irrigation of lucerne. There are also a small number of horticultural properties for which irrigation water is required for fruit and vegetable production, and for orchard maintenance.

Key water management issues

Since there are no major storages to capture and control flows, most water users rely on natural flows or small structures, such as weirs for their water supplies. As in most unregulated rivers, flows are most affected during relatively dry times, when water is low and demand is high.

The management of lands along river and creek banks is an important issue that can affect water flow and quality. For example, cattle grazing can damage sensitive riverbank vegetation resulting in erosion, and forestry can reduce rainfall run-off into rivers, creeks and streams.

Environmental issues

Like much of the NSW south coast, the Towamba catchment has a relatively high density of estuaries and coastal lakes. There are 10 ecologically significant ICOLLs - Intermittently closed and open lakes and lagoons. They include Wallagoot Lake, Merrica Lake, Nadgee Estuary and Nadgee Lake, and two ecologically significant estuaries - Towamba and Wonboyn, in the Towamba catchment.

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 plan in this catchment:

  • Towamba River Unregulated and Alluvial

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. South Coast - progress report 2010 (PDF, 4362.87 KB) summarises activities undertaken in the previous water year and provides an interim assessment of outcomes from the investigations.