A NSW Government website

About NRAR

The value of water

Water resources are the foundation of healthy communities, environments and economies. All of us depend on water in so many ways. When you take water in NSW without following the rules, it’s not just water you’re taking.

Recognising how crucial water is (and its value) is integral to how we manage it, and how water laws are enforced.

Economic value of water

We recently commissioned a report to put a dollar value on water access licences in NSW. It revealed they were worth more than $29 billion.

This finding demonstrates that water has a significant monetary worth and taking it unlawfully has a measurable economic impact on other water users.

Key findings:

  • The rising value of water licences is being driven by increasing demand from horticulture (fruits and nuts) and viticulture (grapes), from cotton production, and from high value crop production, like blueberries.
  • The most valuable water assets are in the southern inland zone of NSW (including the Murray and Murrumbidgee regions), where the value of water entitlements is estimated to be more than $19 billion.
  • Water licences are delivering significant value to the NSW economy through irrigated agriculture production, averaging between $2.45 and $3.5 billion per year.

Read the full report here. (PDF, 1397.66 KB)

Water and industry

Find out what having a water licence and following the rules means to Bruce Chapman, a Bendemeer based farmer.

Social and cultural value of water

The report acknowledged that water entitlements also support other important benefits not measured in this study.

This includes environmental outcomes, cultural outcomes for First Nations people, economic and social outcomes for recreational and commercial fishing and tourism.

Water and Indigenous communities

We spoke with Phil Duncan, NRAR’s first Indigenous board member about what water means to him and his community.