The NSW Government today released the draft NSW Groundwater Strategy, the state’s first-ever long-term roadmap for the sustainable management of its vast and precious groundwater resources.
Kaia Hodge, Executive Director Water Strategy and Policy for the NSW Department of Planning and Environment, said the strategy will be on display until 14 August giving the community an opportunity to have its say.
“Groundwater is essential to the people, businesses and environment of NSW, and this strategy will ensure our communities have the groundwater resources they need into the long-term future,” Ms Hodge said.
“More than 250 regional towns across our state rely on groundwater for their day-to-day water needs.”
“Groundwater directly contributes nearly $1 billion to our yearly economy by supporting the agricultural sector and other industries, and groundwater supplies close to 10 per cent of NSW’s drinking water.”
“First Nations people and Aboriginal communities also have deep cultural and social connections to groundwater, which plays a key role in their caring for Country.
“This is a vital resource that we need to manage sustainably and protect, especially as we face challenges like a more variable climate, and more pressure on our resources as our towns and cities continue to grow, particularly off the back of the pandemic.”
The draft NSW Groundwater Strategy is a priority action under the NSW Water Strategy and builds on 30 years of world-leading groundwater management, further refining the state’s existing and robust groundwater framework.
Using the latest available science, it will set the strategic direction for groundwater management over the next 20 plus years, putting actions in place to secure its continuing quality and supply.
It will also bolster recognition of Aboriginal people’s rights to access and use groundwater, and for the first time, culturally significant and valuable sites that are groundwater-dependent will be recognised and protected.
“Our state has more than 450 groundwater sources from which more than 3,000 billion litres of water could be extracted for use every year – including for cultural use, critical needs, and town water supply. That’s 1.2 million Olympic-sized swimming pools worth of water,” Ms Hodge said.
“About 6.5 million hectares, or about eight per cent of the state’s land surface, contains valuable ecosystems which are dependent on groundwater – including many wetlands, springs and lakes that support our unique plant and animal species.
“But some of these sources are becoming more vulnerable, especially as water from rivers becomes scarcer as our climate changes.
“We must act now to future-proof these precious resources, and I urge all members of the community and stakeholders to have their say to help us finalise the strategy.”
The draft NSW Groundwater Strategy will be on display from 5 July to 14 August. As part of the exhibition process there will be webinars held during July.