A NSW Government website

Aboriginal Water Programs

Aboriginal Communities Water and Sewerage Program

Improving the standard of water and sewerage services provided to 63 Aboriginal communities in NSW.

Namatjira water tank.

About the program

The NSW Government is invested in improving the health and wellbeing of residents of 63 eligible Aboriginal communities across the state by providing safe and effective water and sewerage services.

Well-managed water and sewerage systems reduce the risk of diarrhoeal disease for communities, as well as respiratory and skin infections, resulting in better health outcomes.

The Aboriginal Communities Water and Sewerage Program (ACWSP) is a $200 million award-winning initiative aimed at ensuring the level of these services provided to eligible communities is of equivalent standard to nearby non-Indigenous towns.

The program began in December 2008 and is a joint initiative of the NSW Government and the NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC).

Aboriginal Affairs is the lead government agency for the program and the department manages the implementation. NSW Health also plays an important role, monitoring health standards for water and sewerage systems in the communities involved.

How it works

Regular meetings are held with Aboriginal community members, local Aboriginal land councils (LALC), local water utilities and NSW Health to understand what’s needed to improve the existing infrastructure and service levels.

The ACWSP provides ongoing support for service delivery, ensuring water and sewerage services continue to be operated and maintained at levels consistent with nearby non-Indigenous communities.

History of the program

The NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Act came into force in 1983 and former Aboriginal reserve lands were transferred to Local Aboriginal Land Councils (LALCs). The introduction of the Act saw LALC’s become responsible for the water and sewerage systems on their land without the technical knowledge or resources to maintain them, placing the health of these communities at risk.

In 2004 a working group was established by NSW Health to investigate infrastructure needs in discreet Aboriginal communities, and a report was published 3 years later. The report was used to form a business case for funding which was successful in 2008 and resulted in the development of the ACWSP.

Community map

Explore the communities benefiting from the program in the map below.

Completed projects

Recently completed projects carried out by the department in partnership with our stakeholders.

More information

For more information on the program contact acwsp@dpie.nsw.gov.au