Sydney Water

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Sydney Water
Sydney water logo.png
Sydney Water logo
State-owned statutory corporation overview
Formed 1 July 1995
Dissolved Water Board
Jurisdiction Greater Metropolitan Sydney, Illawarra and the Blue Mountains
Headquarters 1 Smith Street, Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia
Minister responsible
State-owned statutory corporation executives
  • Kevin Young, managing director
  • Bruce Morgan, Chairman
Parent State-owned statutory corporation Government of New South Wales

Sydney Water or formally, Sydney Water Corporation, is a New South Wales Governmentowned statutory corporation that provides potable drinking water, wastewater and some stormwater services to Greater Metropolitan Sydney, the Illawarra and the Blue Mountains regions, in the Australian state of New South Wales. Sydney Water has historically held a monopoly over the supply of water within the Sydney region, although legislation has recently[when?] been passed to open the market to competition.

Name changes[edit]

The origins of Sydney Water go back to 26 March 1888 when the Metropolitan Water and Sewerage Amendment Act, 1888 (NSW) was enacted and repealed certain sections of the Sydney Corporation Act, 1879 (NSW) relating to water supply and sewerage, thereby transferring the property, powers and obligations from the Municipal Council to the Board of Water Supply and Sewerage.[1]

The forebears of Sydney Water include:

  • Board of Water Supply and Sewerage (1888 – 1892)[1]
  • Metropolitan Board of Water Supply and Sewerage (1892 – 1925)[1]
  • Metropolitan Water Sewerage and Drainage Board (1925 – 1987)[2]
  • Water Board (1987 – 1994)[2] which had also been the colloquial name for the organisation for much of its history in the 20th century, and persists among longer term employees and older members of the community to this day
  • Sydney Water Corporation Limited (1995 – 1999)[3]
  • Sydney Water Corporation (1999 – present) – with "Limited" being dropped when the corporation changed from a state owned limited company to a statutory state-owned corporation.

Water supply management[edit]

Sydney Water's management received extensive criticism following the 1998 Sydney water crisis regarding what was believed to be the large scale contamination of Sydney's raw water supply. The supposed contamination was heightened levels of cryptosporidium and giardia in Sydney's Warragamba Dam. This meant the public had to take extra steps in their own homes to ensure tap water was safe to drink.[4] After this event, the Sydney Catchment Authority was created to manage Sydney's dams, reservoirs, raw water and catchment areas. The Chairman of Sydney Water, David Hill resigned ten days after the crisis and denied any responsibility, claiming he was leaving only to concentrate on his political career.[5]

Water restrictions[edit]

Since June 2009 Sydney Water replaced water restrictions with Water Wise Rules. The Rules are:

  • All hoses must now have a trigger nozzle.
  • Hand held hoses, sprinklers and watering systems may be used only before 10 am and after 4 pm on any day – to avoid the heat of the day
  • No hosing of hard surfaces such as paths and driveways. Washing vehicles is allowed.
  • Fire hoses may be used for fire fighting activities only.

Sydney Water has imposed fines of $200 for violations of the rules for individuals, $500 for businesses, and $2,200 for water theft. Rules are enforced by Sydney Water staff through random checks.[6]

Headquarters and influence[edit]

Part of the art deco façade of the former Metropolitan Water Severage & Drainage Board Building.

Sydney Water, and its predecessors, had for virtually all of its existence dating back to the 19th century, been located in the Sydney central business district at the corner of Pitt and Bathurst Streets, directly above Sydney's Town Hall railway station. The central location of Sydney Water in Sydney reflected the organisation's strategic significance as the lead organisation in planning Sydney's growth and future expansion. Without water services, no residential or business growth could occur in Sydney, the Illawarra or Blue Mountains.

Sydney Water's headquarters hence were relocated to Parramatta in May 2009.[7] The developer, Brookfield Multiplex, valued the project at A$176 million.[8] Under this deal, rather than Sydney Water owning its own building, the corporation would enter a long-term lease with a private sector provider, who would own and maintain the corporate head office, at an annual rent charged to the NSW taxpayer.

The former 'Water Board' high rise building in Sydney still stands, though is due to be demolished with a new residential tower (the Greenland Centre Sydney) built in its place.


In early 2010 operations of the Sydney Desalination Plant began;[9] with a licence granted to Veolia Water Australia Pty Ltd to operate the plant and supply Sydney Water with drinking water. In 2012, the NSW Government entered into a 50–year lease with Sydney Desalination Plant Pty Ltd (DSP), a company jointly owned by the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan Board (50%) and two funds managed by Hastings Funds Management Limited: Utilities Trust of Australia and The Infrastructure Fund (together 50%).[10] The terms of the A$2.3 billion lease lock Sydney Water into a 50–year water supply agreement with DSP.[11]


  1. ^ a b c "Agency Profile of the Board of Water Supply and Sewerage". State Records Authority of New South Wales. Retrieved 7 February 2008. 
  2. ^ a b "Agency Profile of the Metropolitan Water Sewerage and Drainage Board". State Records Authority of New South Wales. Retrieved 7 February 2008. 
  3. ^ "Agency Profile of the Sydney Water Corporation Limited". State Records Authority of New South Wales. Retrieved 7 February 2008. 
  4. ^ "The Great Sydney Water crisis of 1998". SpringerLink – The Netherlands. Retrieved 25 February 2010. 
  5. ^ Francis, Geoff; Hicks, Peter (16 September 1998). "David Hill: from Giardia to Labor MP?". Green Left Weekly. Retrieved 16 March 2014. 
  6. ^ "Water restrictions". Sydney Water. 
  7. ^ "Our corporate head office". Archived from the original on 11 February 2010. 
  8. ^ "Sydney Water Corporate Headquarters, Parramatta". Multiplex. 
  9. ^ "Sydney's desal plant switched on". The Sydney Morning Herald. AAP. 28 January 2010. Retrieved 16 March 2014. 
  10. ^ "Ownership Structure". About. Sydney Desalination Plant Pty Ltd. 2013. Retrieved 16 March 2014. 
  11. ^ "NSW signs $2.3b desalination plant deal". The Sydney Morning Herald. Reuters. 11 May 2012. Retrieved 16 March 2014. 

External links[edit]