Rivers and wetlands

Our rivers and wetlands are under critical stress due to a long history of catchment degradation and unsustainable water extraction.

Restoring our precious rivers and wetlands

Healthy rivers and wetlands are essential for native wildlife, Aboriginal cultural heritage, local communities, and a diverse range of industries, from floodplain grazing to tourism and recreational fishing. The rivers and wetlands of NSW are under extreme stress after decades of catchment degradation, water-course diversion, unsustainable water extraction, and climate change.

Over the past century, the Murray Darling Basin has experienced a dramatic decline in wetlands, waterbirds and native fish populations, due to a massive increase in the volume of water extracted for irrigation.

On the coast, coastal rivers, wetlands and estuaries have suffered from a lack of oversight and inadequate water-sharing plans, putting vulnerable coastal environments and wildlife at risk. In response to these threats, we continue to provide a vital voice for nature in water policy processes at the state and federal level.

To restore rivers and wetlands and deliver water justice we are calling on the NSW Government to:

  • Protect environmental water and river flows throughout NSW river systems, wetlands and estuaries.
  • Tighten the water-use monitoring regime and implement the ‘no meter, no pump’ objective universally.
  • Control floodplain harvesting by requiring an upfront cumulative environmental assessment prior to issuing floodplain harvesting licences, and placing limits on extraction.
  • Ruling out new dams or dam expansions, and promoting more efficient water usage.

See further: A Cleaner, Greener NSW – Policies for the 2019 NSW State Election and Beyond

Inland Rivers Network

We are a founding member of the Inland Rivers Network, a coalition of environment groups and individuals concerned about the degradation of the rivers, wetlands and ground waters of the Murray-Darling Basin. IRN has been advocating on behalf of the native fish, water birds and water dependent ecosystems in the Murray-Darling Basin since 1991. Learn more.


Latest news


1 February 2019


Positions of MDBA Board and Chief Executive are now untenable

The Federal Government must appoint a new Board and CEO to the Murray Darling Basin Authority after the South Australian Royal Commission found there were “serious doubts” that the current officeholders were “capable of fulfilling their statutory obligations and functions”.

Rivers and wetlands

10 February, 2015


Damming the Belubula River is environmentally and financially reckless

The environment movement remains opposed to the National Party’s plans to dam the Belubula River in the Central West, even though the preferred dam site has shifted from Needles Gap to the Cranky Dam site.

Rivers and wetlands

10 January 219


Fish killed by poor river management

The NSW and federal governments must accept responsibility for their role in the catastrophic fish kills on the Darling River in western NSW this month.

Rivers and wetlands


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