Media release: Water conservation in Greater Sydney

The Auditor-General for New South Wales, Margaret Crawford, released a report today examining whether the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment and Sydney Water have effectively progressed water conservation initiatives in Greater Sydney.

The report found that the department and Sydney Water have not effectively investigated, implemented or supported water conservation initiatives in Greater Sydney. The agencies have not met key requirements of the current Metropolitan Water Plan and Sydney Water has not met all its operating licence requirements for water conservation. There has been little policy or regulatory reform, little focus on identifying new options and investments, and limited planning and implementation of water conservation initiatives.

As a result, Greater Sydney's water supply may be less resilient to population growth and climate variability, including drought.

The Metropolitan Water Plan states that water conservation, including recycling water, makes the drinking water supply go further. The plan also states that increasing water conservation efforts may be cheaper than building new large-scale supply options and can delay the timing of investment in new supply infrastructure.

The Auditor-General recommends the department develop a clear policy and regulatory position on water conservation options, improve governance and funding for water conservation, and work with Sydney Water to assess the viability of water conservation initiatives. The report also recommends improvements to Sydney Water’s planning for and reporting on water conservation, including the transparency of this information.

Further information

Please contact Ian Goodwin, Deputy Auditor-General on 9275 7347 or by email