NSW drought hits hard with water restrictions likely before the end of the year

Last week NGIA and NGINA met with Sydney Water to discuss the strategy around water use for industry and Nursery & Garden Industry’s desire to work with regulators on water conservation messages for the garden.

The meeting, which was attended by Sonja Cameron, NGINA Member and owner of Cameron’s Nursery; Peter Vaughan, CEO and Kobie Keenan, Communication Manager at NGIA; and Ray Lee, General Manager at NGINA, was a positive move in opening the communication between Industry and regulators to ensure the NSW industry is informed and prepared for water saving measures.

When considering individual catchments around Sydney, dams are sitting at approximately 20% lower for the same time last year. At the time of the meeting last week dam levels were sitting at 62.7%.

Sydney Water indicated that although the Metro Water Plan had in indicative trigger for water restrictions when dams reached 60%, there was potential for that to be brought forward.

They noted that despite the recent rains, there are major concerns around water levels and particularly the inflows to the dams which are at their lowest since 1944. Of further concern is the prediction of an El Nino event which has potential to exacerbate the impacts of this drought.

While unable to define the detail of the staged restrictions, Sydney Water confirmed they will continue to liaise with industry and will be seeking further consultation, indicating that industry should be prepared to provide support this side of Christmas. They also advised they were working closely with Shoalhaven Water and Hunter Water Corporation in a ‘coalition’ sharing information and leveraging ideas.


NGI representatives at the meeting emphasised the critical need for the Nursery and Garden Industry to be aware of this information to enable industry to prepare appropriately and begin to remind greenlife customers through retail and landscape sectors of the need to water wisely.

Sydney Water began their water conservation campaign in early August of this year focusing on both indoor and outdoor water use and have developed some promotional icons for general use. They are encouraging industry to emphasise to customers now, the need to be aware of outdoor water use.

The icons are available to download HERE.

Another feature of the awareness campaign is the ‘Tiny House’. Made from an old shipping container the Sydney Water Tiny House has been travelling Sydney to encourage awareness of both indoor and outdoor water use. The house incorporates a walled garden and plans are currently underway for this house to visit NGINA Trade Day before the end of the year.

Discussions are also in place around developing material which NGIA members can use to share with their customers, particularly retailers but also for growers to pass to their clients as support information for greenlife installers and landscapers.

Overall the meeting was positive with Sydney Water stating their ideas were aligned with Industry in ensuring we have liveable cities and understanding the role that greenlife plays in our urban areas. They agreed there was a need to protect the greenlife investment and are willing to work with Industry to help navigate this current drought.

NGIA will continue to inform the industry of activities as they progress but all of industry is asked not to wait to start the conversation about outdoor water use.
This is an opportunity to demonstrate horticultural intellect and teach the community about the value of greenlife and how to support it during drought.

Some tips for Members include:

  • Use the promotion icons above– in email signatures, on invoicing, in customer newsletters or catalogues
  • Follow, Like and Share relevant Sydney Water social media posts
  • Access the revised Wise about Water signage for use in your business
  • Retailers can prepare water wise displays of plants with similar needs and water saving products.

Please do not hesitate to contact NGIA, info@ngia.com.au or NGINA, info@ngina.com.au for more information on the meeting.