A NSW Government website

Aboriginal Water Program

Cultural Watering Plans

Cultural Watering Plans provide the information and data required to improve policies to achieve Aboriginal community aspirations.

Cultural watering plans

About Cultural Watering Plans

The department has committed to increasing Aboriginal ownership of, and access to water for cultural and economic purposes (NSW Water Strategy, pg 56).

To achieve this objective, the department is piloting the Cultural Watering Plans (CWP) project. A CWP will outline how Aboriginal communities want to use their water rights to achieve cultural outcomes using water management language.


The Cultural Watering Plan registration of interest fact sheet outlines the key information needed to register to have a plan developed.

Cultural Watering Plans registration of interest fact sheet (PDF, 114KB)

Examples of cultural watering plans may include:

  • accessing in-stream, overland flow or groundwater to do any of the following:
    • drinking
    • food preparation
    • washing
    • manufacture of traditional artefacts
    • watering of personal gardens
    • cultural teaching
    • hunting
    • fishing
    • bush tucker and bush medicine gathering
    • recreational purposes
    • cultural purposes
    • ceremonial purposes
  • keeping cultural flows in local rivers or creeks to meet community’s cultural needs
  • watering culturally significant wetlands, billabongs or waterholes
  • protecting a water-dependent culturally significant site
  • maintaining adequate cultural water to meet the fishing, hunting, bush tucker and traditional medicine needs of your community
  • maintaining adequate water quality and quantity to meet your community’s social needs, including drinking, washing, swimming, parks and gardens.
  • ensuring there is enough cultural water protected in groundwater sources to allow naturally occurring springs, seepages and wells to meet cultural needs
  • during droughts and low flow times connectivity in the rivers, creeks and pools are maintained to meet cultural needs.

Developing a plan will:

  • inform the department’s review of existing policy frameworks to identify opportunities for greater Aboriginal access and ownership of water
  • provide information to Aboriginal communities to make it easier to navigate the licensing framework to access and use water for cultural purposes.

The department encourages communities that have access to various water sources and types, including regulated and unregulated water sources, springs and groundwater sources to register their interest in developing a CWP.

Register your interest in developing a CWP

Aboriginal communities are encouraged to register their interest in developing a CWP. The department’s Aboriginal Water Program and consultants will work with communities to complete their CWP and guide them through the process to ensure their ambitions for cultural water are recognised.

To register your interest please complete an online form below.

Registration of interest – Online form

Or, download the registration of interest – Cultural Watering Plan fillable form (PDF, 115.4 KB) and email it to Katrina.mcclelland@dpie.nsw.gov.au

Registrations of interest must be submitted by 11:59 pm, Sunday 26 February 2023.

Contact us

For more information about the Cultural Watering Plans or the registration of interest process please contact the Aboriginal Water Program team by phone 1300 081 047 or email Katrina.mcclelland@dpie.nsw.gov.au