Water Reform Action Plan


In 2017 several reviews were initiated at the State and Federal level following allegations of mismanagement of water resources and misconduct. In response to recommendations arising from the Matthews Investigation and the Murray-Darling Basin water compliance review, the NSW government developed a Water Reform Action Plan (WRAP), currently that outlined how it would implement those recommendations.

In summary, the WRAP has:

Introduced best practice for water management by:

  • Establishing a new Lands and Water division
  • Establishing a new regulatory framework for water management
  • Defining and explaining the specific roles of government bodies that have accountability for water management

Built a compliance and enforcement regime that ensures strong and certain regulation by:

  • Strengthening compliance and enforcement capacity
  • Establishing a new independent regulator with strong regulatory powers (NRAR)
  • Implementing a robust metering framework
  • Adopting innovative technologies to improve compliance effectiveness

Ensured transparency in how we share, allocate and manage water by:

  • Increasing transparency in water management
  • Creating a stakeholder engagement framework
  • Better managing environmental water

Built capability to support implementation of water reforms by:

  • Building capability, improving standards and embedding an ethical culture


A commitment of the WRAP was to report regularly on the progress of implementing water reforms. The reports provide updates under each of the four major categories of the WRAP along with additional information regarding specific achievements within each quarter. The reports also highlight community feedback and next steps.  View the WRAP program reports:

In delivering the WRAP and to increase transparency in water management, the NSW Government commissioned independent reviews into the progress in both 2018 and 2019. These chart progress already made against the plan and provide some recommendations on how to further water management reforms in NSW. The department will continue to build on its solid foundation of work to date and seek the best ways to incorporate additional recommendations. The department is already working on implementing measures that will address many of the review’s recommendations and further measures will be considered.

Stakeholder Engagement

As part of the WRAP, the NSW Government publicly engaged with water users across NSW on many occasions between March 2017 and November 2019, to provide information and seek feedback on draft policy proposals. A wide range of stakeholders provided feedback during the consultation processes, including the Commonwealth, state and local government agencies, industry peak bodies, agricultural representative groups, water-user representative groups, Aboriginal organisations, environmental groups, irrigator corporations, water infrastructure providers, fisheries groups, private landholders and members of the general public. This community and stakeholder consultation helped inform and shape new policy.

All stakeholder engagement was undertaken in line with the department’s Stakeholder and Community Engagement Policy.

Key Contacts for Water Users

WaterNSW:  customer.helpdesk@waternsw.com.au or 1300 662 077

Natural Resources Access Regulator: nrar.enquiries@nrar.nsw.gov.au or 1800 633 362.

Department of Planning and Environment–Water:  water.enquiries@dpie.nsw.gov.au

Murray Darling Basin Authority:  1800 630 114

For information on the department’s Code of Ethics and Conduct and other policies, please visit the department’s ‘Our policies’ page.