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How water is managed

Independent review of water management and compliance

The department received Ken Matthews’ final report into water management and compliance in NSW.

The Darling River from Wetherell Lake regulator.

Final Matthews report released

The Department (then Department of Industry) has received Ken Matthews’ final report (PDF, 536.24 KB) and thanks him for his open and candid report into water management and compliance in NSW.

Mr Matthews has focused his final report on:

  • assessing progress and providing advice on implementation of the Government’s decisions following his interim report
  • advising on policies, strategies and options to give practical effect to improved water metering and usage monitoring, especially in northern NSW
  • advice on environmental water issues and on the department’s dealings with the MDBA and other jurisdictions to achieve whole of Basin improvements to compliance and enforcement arrangements
  • further advice on opportunities to improve the department’s water policy advice and water management, including any matters from the original July terms of reference that emerged in the course of his further work.

The report acknowledges the swift action taken by the government and the department to start implementing his recommendations but there are challenges, and unless commitment and focus stay on the total reform package there are significant risks to implementation.

The NSW Government is committed to implementing the Water Management Compliance Improvement Package outlined by Mr Matthews so will be providing a comprehensive response to this report and other recent reports on NSW water administration in the coming weeks.

Download the Final report: Independent investigation into NSW water management and compliance (PDF, 536.24 KB)


On 26 July 2017, Minister for Regional Water, Niall Blair announced (PDF, 115.77 KB) the appointment of Ken Matthews AO to conduct an independent investigation into the issues raised by the ABC’s 4 Corners program on 24 July 2017.

Mr Matthews is a former Commonwealth Department Head with a long and accomplished career in the Australian Public Service and has significant experience in water management issues. He served as the foundation Chair and Chief Executive Officer of the National Water Commission (NWC) and was responsible for working with the state and territory governments to implement the National Water Initiative, an inter-governmental agreement to improve national water management.

The terms of reference (PDF, 82.44 KB) for the review will cover all allegations raised in the broadcast that involve the responsibilities of the then DPI-Water and any of its employees.

If the review identifies staff whose conduct has not been in keeping with department policies or processes, this information will be provided for decision-making in any subsequent disciplinary processes. Referral of any potentially illegal or corrupt activities identified will be made to relevant authorities.

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