Hawkesbury Nepean, New South Wales
Total funding: Up to $77.4 million from the Australian Government.
The Hawkesbury Nepean River is an iconic waterway and an important ecological and community asset. The river supplies water to Sydney's 4.3 million people as well as supplying agricultural production. This, combined with increased pressures from land use change for urban development, means the river has been suffering significant stress.
River regulation and elevated nutrient levels in the water have had serious impacts on the river's health. These two elements contribute to algal blooms, excessive weed growth and reduced numbers of native fish, which in turn impact negatively on fisheries, tourism, agricultural production and biodiversity conservation.
Discharges from sewage treatment plants and from sources such as agricultural runoff and urban stormwater add nutrients to the river, also increasing the risk of algal blooms. Water being stored in dams and weirs and direct extraction of water below the dams for agricultural production reduces the amount of water in the river.
The recent drought has added to and emphasised these problems.
About the project
The Hawkesbury Nepean River Recovery Project aims to improve river health, below the major water supply dams, by increasing the water available for environmental flows in the river and reducing nutrient loads. The Project also seeks to engage and involve all levels of government with landholders in the catchment during the implementation of the Project.
The objectives of the Project are to implement the Project Components as described below by:
- securing 7.24 gigalitres per year of entitlements for additional environmental flows in the Hawkesbury Nepean river system below the major dams. Also for increasing Sydney's water supply security (where NSW Water Savings Funds are used). The water savings for additional environmental flows will be secured under the Water Management Act 2000 (NSW) (section 8). The Water Management Act 2000 (NSW) provides the legal mechanism which enables the protection and accounting of reduced river extractions or potable water savings achieved through the Project
- reducing nutrient inputs to the river system by at least 48.2 tonnes per year
- engaging with relevant state agencies, local government and landholders across the Hawkesbury Nepean catchment.
Distribution of anticipated water and nutrient savings across project components are set out in the following table:
|Project Component||Nutrient Savings (tonnes/yr)||Water Savings (gigalitres/yr)|
|Tot. Nitrogen||Tot. Phosphorus||Secured for the environment||Unsecured||Returned to Irrigators|
|Nutrient Smart Management||27||6||0||0||0|
|Improving Hawkesbury Nepean Water Balance Accounting||1.4||0.1||0||2.85||0|
|Irrigation and Landscape Efficiency Project||0||0||1.06||0||0|
|Water Smart Farms||11.8||1.2||4.4*||0||1.5*|
|Hawkesbury City Council Windsor Effluent Reuse Scheme||0.4||0||0.1||0||0|
|Nutrient Reduction and Monitoring||0||0||0||0||0|
|Totals||Tot. Nutrient Reduction is 48.2 tonnes/yr||Total Water Saving of 11.59 gigalitres/yr|
*The total water savings from the Water Smart Farms Project Component is estimated to be 5.9 gigalitres per year. The actual allocation of water savings between water secured for the environment and water returned to irrigators will depend on the final mix of water savings made from potable water users and irrigators. The 1.5 gigalitres per year to be returned to irrigators represents the upper estimate of water to be returned to irrigators, and assumes all on-ground works are undertaken at irrigator properties.
More information about the Project components:
- Nutrient Smart Management
- Improving Hawkesbury Nepean water balance accounting (metering)
- Irrigation and Landscape Efficiency Project Component (ILEP)
- Purchase of river extraction entitlements
- Water Smart Farms
- Hawkesbury Council South Windsor Effluent Reuse Scheme
- Nutrient Export Monitoring
Water Smart Australia projects are funded by the Australian Government's Water for the Future initiative.