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Shoalhaven Transfer Scheme

Shoalhaven water transfers provided about 30 percent of the supply to greater Sydney during the last drought.

The NSW Government is looking to balance the water supply needs of the Sydney, Illawarra, Blue Mountains, Shoalhaven and Southern Highlands communities, while protecting the health of the Shoalhaven River and rivers in the Southern Highlands.

Shoalhaven transfers are an integral part of the water supply system. Since the 1970s, in times of drought, Sydney and the Illawarra have relied on water pumped from Tallowa Dam on the Shoalhaven River to boost Warragamba Dam or the Upper Nepean dams and supplement water supplies. In the last drought the system provided around 30 percent of the supply to Sydney and the Illawarra.

After extensive research, analysis and community consultation under the Metropolitan Water Plan, important improvements to the Shoalhaven system have been implemented including:

  • new environmental flow rules for the lower Shoalhaven River
  • new infrastructure at Tallowa Dam to improve the quantity and quality of water released downstream and allow for native fish passage 
  • changed operating rules outlining the appropriate dam levels for transferring water upgraded public facilities.

Further investigations have also been undertaken into the best options to augment the system to transfer more water if required in the future while protecting the health of the local rivers. The timing for augmenting the system will depend on factors such as future climate conditions, population growth and demand. These factors will be reviewed over the next few years with a view to having an augmented system built and operational by around 2025.

To find out more visit the NSW Office of Water and the Sydney Catchment Authority websites or view Chapter 3 (PDF) and Chapter 7 (PDF) of the 2010 Metropolitan Water Plan.