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Prospect Reservoir recreation opportunities

We are committed to identifying ways to allow recreation at Prospect Reservoir. Consultation is now closed.

Prospect Reservoir aerial

What you told us

In August and September 2023, we asked you to share your thoughts about increasing recreation options at Prospect Reservoir, and your hopes for its future.

Throughout the 6-week consultation period almost 1800 people had their say on the project.

Engagement stats as per what we heard document
Engagement activities at a glance

Your feedback has helped us to better understand what you value about Prospect Reservoir and your aspirations for its future use, as well as any concerns or considerations for additional features and activities.

What we heard report: Increasing recreation opportunities and Prospect Reservoir Public discussion

Read the What We Heard Report to learn more about the range of ideas and views that we received from water industry stakeholders, recreational sector peak bodies, environmental academics and community groups, researchers, and the public.

Download the report

What’s next

The NSW Government has committed to a feasibility study to identify the best way to allow recreation at Prospect Reservoir, while protecting water quality, cultural values and the environment. The feasibility study will be informed by the feedback gathered during the consultation phase.

In 2024, the feasibility study will deliver short and long-term options to the government for consideration.

Further updates on the outcome of this consultation will be shared with you as they become available.

About the project

Western Sydney is growing in population, housing, and jobs. As growth of the Western Parkland City continues, demand for recreation areas will increase. That’s why we are exploring new ways to expand opportunities to exercise, relax and connect with nature at Prospect Reservoir.

However, we know there is much to protect at the site. The Prospect Reservoir and Nature Reserve have significant history and importance. Since 1888, the reservoir has been supplying drinking water to Greater Sydney residents. It is used as one of three main supplies for Prospect Water Filtration Plant, supplying 80% of Greater Sydney’s drinking water to 4 million people. Prospect Nature Reserve is also listed on the NSW State Heritage Register for its rare and endangered aspects.

There are currently limited opportunities for recreational use at Prospect Reservoir.

We asked you to tell us what you value at Prospect Reservoir and what additional recreational activities you might like to see there in the future.

Discussion paper, fact sheet and video

Discussion paper

An overview of some of the recreational possibilities being considered for the area.

Download the discussion paper (PDF. 2,411KB)

Fact sheet

A brief overview of the project.

Download the fact sheet (PDF. 317KB)

Prospect Reservoir video

Find out more about the potential opportunities at Prospect Reservoir.

Have your say

Community was invited to have a say between Monday 21 August to Saturday 30 September 2023. The survey has now closed and responses are being collated into a ‘What we heard’ report.

Learn more about Prospect Reservoir

Click on the icons to learn more about Prospect Reservoir’s history and features. Including photos and videos. Use the top left icon on the map to view the map menu. Use the top right icon to view the map in full screen.

Online information sessions

Watch the recording of the webinar

13 September 2023 – An information session was held to discuss opportunities at Prospect Reservoir.

Watch the recording of the webinar

7 September 2023 – An information session was held to discuss opportunities at Prospect Reservoir.

Frequently asked questions

Why Prospect Reservoir?

Western Sydney is growing in population, housing, and jobs. As growth of the Western Parkland City continues, demand for recreation areas and water-based recreation opportunities will increase.

There is substantial demand in Western Sydney for more local swimming and recreation opportunities, with about half of local residents enjoying outdoor recreation involving water at least once a week. The largest barrier to accessibility is travel time.

The NSW Government has recognised that there is a lack of access to safe, open water for recreation in Western Sydney. Prospect Reservoir, a 520-hectare waterbody, and its surrounding lands offers an opportunity to improve this with opportunities for swimming, water sports and recreation.

It is in an excellent location about 20 minutes’ drive from the key cities of Blacktown, Cabramatta and Badgerys Creek where the new international airport will be based.

What is the size of Prospect Reservoir?

50,200 megalitres in storage capacity.

The 5.2 square kilometre lake is surrounded by Prospect Nature Reserve which contains protected bushland and is closed to the public and a smaller recreational area that includes picnic grounds and bicycle tracks, and is part of the larger Western Sydney Parklands.

Why is swimming and non-motorised watercraft not currently allowed in Prospect Reservoir?

Prospect Reservoir is a critical part of Sydney’s water supply system and preventing human interaction with water is currently crucial to managing raw water quality to Prospect Water Filtration Plant.

Recreational access into the reservoir will introduce an additional risk to water quality that will require significant investment in additional water treatment to continue to meet the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines and protect public health.

According to the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (ADWG), the greatest risks to consumers of drinking water are disease causing microorganisms. Human contact at Prospect Reservoir from recreational use may result in harmful microorganisms being introduced.

To ensure the drinking water continues to be safe to drink, additional water treatment processes such as clarification and increased disinfection will be required.

Why is swimming allowed in other NSW dams?

Prospect Reservoir is a key part of Sydney’s water supply storage, so we need to ensure it is adequately protected. Other dams where swimming is allowed are not critical to the drinking water supply or have additional treatment processes in place such as more sophisticated filtration and ultraviolet light disinfection to ensure the water is safe to drink after human contact.

What types of recreational spaces are already at Prospect Reservoir?

Picnic areas, walking tracks, cycleways and lookouts next to Prospect Reservoir are open to the community to use and enjoy.

What options are being explored to upgrade the recreation areas at Prospect Reservoir?

There are several options being considered for the reservoir area, including:

  • Expanding and upgrading the current recreation facilities
  • Extending walking and bike-riding tracks
  • Increasing cultural and heritage experiences particularly indigenous experiences
  • Reusing buildings on site
  • Constructing viewing platforms and removal of some fencing
  • Building offline pools or other aquatic facilities
  • Investigating in-reservoir swimming in a set area of the reservoir, in a potentially more manageable, contained space
  • Kayaking and non-motorised boating access to the reservoir
  • Exploring the potential for recreational fishing

What options are not being considered for Prospect Reservoir?

These recreational activities are not being considered, due to safety concerns and environmental and heritage impacts:

  • Access to the whole reservoir, including free swimming
  • Access for motorboats due to water quality, and environmental concerns
  • Lighting any fires due to the conservation value of the area, risk to the water supply, essential infrastructure assets and to neighbouring residential areas.

Will this compromise Sydney’s drinking water supply?

We will need to carry out a robust and comprehensive feasibility study that looks at the different options, the benefits and risks, and whether we can mitigate those risks effectively.

The study will be carried out in two phases that will investigate options for public recreation including swimming and non-motorised watercraft.

We are working on the first phase of the feasibility study and have released a discussion paper calling for public input.

This first part looks at the most immediate options that are available to us. It will involve options that maintain a barrier between the part of the water body used for recreation and the water body that we continue to use for our drinking water supply.

The second phase will provide a more in-depth analysis of these options and what needs to be done to allow activities like swimming and kayaking in and on the reservoir.

Sydney has some of the highest quality water in the world and we would never do anything that would compromise that.

Is Prospect Reservoir one of Sydney’s main water sources?

Yes. The reservoir is an integral part of Sydney’s drinking water supply. It is one of three main supplies to Prospect Water Filtration Plant.

It is a key part of Sydney’s water supply storage, so we need to ensure it is adequately protected, balancing the opportunities for increased recreation while protecting Sydney’s drinking water supply and significant environmental and cultural values of the area.

Who manages Prospect Reservoir?

The reservoir itself is owned and operated by WaterNSW but the surrounding parkland area and water treatment plant is owned by Sydney Water.

The nature reserve is managed by National Parks.

What will the project cost?

The feasibility study, will explore the different options and costs associated with each option.

Increasing recreation opportunities at Prospect Reservoir will come at a considerable cost, including building the facilities, ongoing maintenance and operation, staffing and potential water quality treatment upgrades.

What does the feasibility study do?

The feasibility study, will explore the different options and costs associated with each option. Funding of the project would then be discussed.

A discussion paper has been released for everyone to have their say. Feedback will be taken into consideration to inform the development of the feasibility report.

The feasibility report will put forward a range of options to the NSW Government.

Who are we talking to, to understand the options for increased recreational opportunities?

We are inviting consultation and feedback from local community and businesses, state government departments, local government, Indigenous stakeholders, and water industry experts. We are seeking feedback on the discussion paper which will be used to inform the development of the feasibility report.

Contact us

Phone: 1300 081 047

Email:  water.enquiries@dpie.nsw.gov.au