Water and Sewerage Program
The NSW Government is supporting the maintenance and monitoring of the water and sewerage systems in eligible Aboriginal communities to improve services.
In December 2008 the NSW Government and the NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) agreed to share responsibility for these essential services in eligible discrete communities – former missions and reserves.
Under the agreement, the NSWALC and the NSW Government each pay half the cost of servicing water and sewerage systems and the government pays all program management and capital costs. This joint funding will total approximately $200 million over 25 years.
While Aboriginal Affairs is the lead agency, the NSW Office of Water is responsible for managing and running the water and sewerage program. NSW Health also plays an important role by monitoring health standards for water and sewerage systems in the communities involved.
The program ensures infrastructure and maintenance agreements are in place to operate, maintain and monitor the water and sewerage systems in eligible discrete Aboriginal communities.
Water and sewerage management plans are also being prepared for each community that will identify potential risks to the water supply and sewerage systems, leading to better management and fewer breakdowns.
Eligible discrete Aboriginal communities involved in the program
The 61 Eligible discrete Aboriginal communities involved in the Aboriginal Communities Water and Sewerage Program are:
||Boona Road (Condobolin)
||Crescent Head (Loftus Rd)
||Collarenebri Reserve (The Walli)
||New Burnt Bridge
||Enngonia Reserve (Clara Hart)
||Pippi Beach (Nyguru Village)
||Box Ridge Reserve
||Brewarrina West (Dodge City)
||Wallaga Lake (Koori Village)
||Alice Edwards Village
||Balranald Reserve (Endeavour Dr)
||Cabbage Tree Island
In 1983, former Aboriginal reserve lands were transferred to Local Aboriginal Land Councils (LALCs) when the NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Act came into force.
This was intended as an act of reconciliation. However, the land transfers came with many new responsibilities unfamiliar to the newly created LALCs. Many LALCs became responsible for the water and sewerage systems on their land, often without access to the appropriate resources or technical knowledge.
This led to concerns about water and sewerage system failures and associated health risks.
In 2004, NSW Health established a working group to investigate infrastructure needs in discrete Aboriginal communities.
The 2007 report of the working group led to a full water and sewerage survey in each discrete Aboriginal communities.
A business case for NSW was then established and funding sought, resulting in the current partnership between the NSW Government and NSWALC to deliver the Aboriginal Communities Water and Sewerage Program.
Water and sewerage services have improved in eligible discrete communities since the introduction of the Aboriginal Communities Water and Sewerage Program.
The Office of Water monitors, repairs and maintains the water supply and sewerage systems. NSW Health conducts regular water collection and testing to ensure drinking water is safe and waste is being removed and disposed of properly.
The negotiation of long-term service agreements and management plans will ensure these higher service standards are maintained.
What does the program cover?
The program covers community infrastructure but not houses or housing infrastructure. Housing providers are responsible for maintaining their properties, including the plumbing systems for water and sewerage within the property’s boundary.
The NSW Government and the NSWALC have made a 25-year commitment to jointly fund the program. The longer-term maintenance of systems put in place under this program is something that will need to be considered.
More information on the Aboriginal Communities Water and Sewerage Program is available here
Want to know more?
Phone: 1800 019 998