A long period of socially and economically disruptive drought finally ended for NSW in 2020. Now in 2021 a much shorter time period of extreme weather has brought us disruptive floods, with thousands evacuated, homes and animals lost, and roads and bridges impassable. And the water debate returns to the public arena. How best can we manage our water?

Now, more than ever, it is imperative for the health of our land and water, and our social cohesion, that governments, business and communities come together to ensure policies and governance that will move our vital water resources and infrastructure from a state of crisis and competition to one of shared resilience and responsible use.

In 2020 the UNSW Water Research Centre held a Drought Resilience Forum, bringing together over 100 prominent water experts from academia, industry, all levels of government, and not-for-profit community groups across the state, to discuss our current water challenges and, most importantly, explore the solutions.

Three main themes emerged at the Forum – in order to build water resilience in NSW we need:

  1. Integrated catchment management across the region
  2. Water sensitive urban design and integrated urban water management
  3. Evidence-based solutions, working with improved data and process transparency

The WRC has now produced a wide-ranging White Paper on how to build water resilience in NSW – the Paper makes 34 recommendations in total. At least five main areas of action are outlined.

  • Deep listening to First Nations knowledge holders - Aboriginal representation should be integrated at every level of decision making
  • Integrated catchment authority should be established as a matter of great urgency
  • The Government must commit to full transparency and accessibility of information about water usage
  • Greater support for regenerative farming practises
  • Improved and integrated urban water management, including provision of purified recycled water for drinking.

Link to the full report: WRC White Paper

For more information contact Professor Denis O’Carroll,

Professor and Managing Director, Water Research Laboratory

E: d.ocarroll@unsw.edu.au T:  (02) 8071 9822

M: 0448 258 831