Key catchment Wollongong, Minnamurra River

The Wollongong catchment is located in the Illawarra and has a catchment area of 751 square kilometres.

Major towns

Wollongong, Shellharbour and Kiama.

Rivers and tributaries

Macquarie Rivulet and Minnamurra River.

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 Wollongong Coast Basin on this website.

Major water storage

The Illawarra is part of the Greater Sydney water supply system owned and operated by the Sydney Catchment Authority. There are no major water storages to capture and control water flows for town water supply, which is provided by Sydney Water.

Major water users

Sydney Catchment Authority, local councils, mining, steelworks, tourism and dairy farming.

Key water management issues

As in most unregulated catchments, flows are mostly affected during relatively dry times, when water is low and demand is high. The basin is a thin coastal strip bound in the west by the Illawarra Escarpment with a high density of urban and industrial development. Rural development is constrained in the hinterland and to the south of the basin surrounding Kiama.

Key water management issues include:

  • Water quality – pollution and algal growth, particularly in coastal lakes
  • Riverbank management – urban and industrial development
  • Environmental water – sufficient flows to maintain river health.

Environmental issues

As part of the Metropolitan Water Plan, greater Sydney's dams are now releasing more water for river health through environmental flows that mimic natural inflow patterns. Also, the Wollongong Recycled Water Plant supplies up to seven billion litres a year, reducing demand by around 17 per cent of Illawarra's water needs.

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, 3527.85 KB) summarises activities undertaken in the previous water year and provides an interim assessment of outcomes from the investigations.