The Sydney Catchment Authority (SCA) is a NSW Government agency created under the Sydney Water Catchment Management Act 1998, becoming operational on 2 July 1999. The SCA manages and protects Sydney's drinking water catchments and catchment infrastructure and supplies bulk water to its customers including Sydney Water and a number of local councils.

The SCA's customers filter the water the authority supplies and distribute it to households, businesses and other users. More than four million people, about 60 per cent of the NSW population, use water supplied by the SCA.

History of SCA's water licensing

A 'Major Utility' Water Management Licence was first issued to the SCA in 2001 under Part 9 of the Water Act 1912. The licence underwent a statutory public review in 2006 and has been amended several times.

The Hawkesbury-Nepean River Management Forum and Expert Panel released its final report Water and Sydney's Future – Balancing the values of rivers and economy (PDF 3 MB) in 2004. The report included recommendations for a comprehensive environmental flow program to be implemented downstream of the SCA's storages in the Hawkesbury Nepean. These recommendations were accepted by the NSW Government through the Metropolitan Water Plan and have been gradually implemented through SCA's Water Management Licence.

The water sharing plan for the Greater Metropolitan Region Unregulated River Water Sources 2011 commenced on the 1 July 2011. Under the Water Management Act 2000, the SCA's Part 9 licence was converted to separate water access licences, and combined water supply works and water use approvals for four water sources. These are the Shoalhaven River water source, upper Nepean and upstream Warragamba River water source, Hawkesbury and lower Nepean rivers water source and southern Sydney rivers water source.

Issue of SCA's water licences and approvals package

A licensing package containing the water licences and approvals for four water sources and an operating protocol was issued to SCA on the 1 May 2012 under the Water Management Act. Although the water licences and approvals are separate regulatory instruments their management is intrinsically linked. The package recognises the links between these instruments and facilitates the coordinated management of all water related regulatory instruments issued to the SCA under the Water Management Act.

The water licences and approvals contained in the licensing package define SCA's water access rights and obligations including releases for environmental and other purposes, and monitoring and reporting requirements in accordance with the provisions of the water sharing plan. The operating protocol includes agreed processes and procedures to meet the requirements of the water licences and approvals. The operating protocol recognises the inherent difficulties and limitations in implementing the water licences and approvals and the water sharing plan requirements under certain circumstances. It also provides the means to compensate any shortfalls in the measurements or releases.

The water licences and approvals include all dams, reservoirs and weirs for Sydney's water supply system. This includes Warragamba Dam, Tallowa Dam, Fitzroy Falls Reservoir, Wingecarribee Reservoir, Blue Mountain dams and Woronora Dam and the upper Nepean dams (Nepean, Avon, Cordeaux and Cataract dams).

Details of environmental flow releases from SCA's dams can be found on the environmental flows page of the SCA website.

For information on corporate licences or to report an incident, please call 1800 353 104.

To find out more about SCA's activities, view the Sydney Catchment Authority website.

View the Sydney Catchment Authority's Water Licences and Approvals Package (PDF 744 KB).