Heritage conservation

Heritage connects our past with our future and is passed physically and/or spiritually from one generation to the next. 

It includes built landscapes such as cities, buildings, objects and relics, and our natural living landscapes and ecosystems.

The inside of Crown Street heritage underground water reservoir

We maintain a diverse range of heritage assets.

Which heritage items do we maintain?

We own over 200 heritage listed assets that we actively protect for future generations.

We maintain a Heritage and Conservation Register (S170 Register) that lists our assets with state or local heritage significance.

Most of the items on our register are also listed in other heritage registers, such as the State Heritage Register which is maintained by the Heritage Council of NSW. Other items are listed in Local Environment Plans which are maintained by local governments.

For our assets listed on the State Heritage Register, we've completed conservation management plans. They include historic photographs, drawings and general research. This helps us maintain the heritage value of these assets by capturing their history and use.

We're committed to conserving Aboriginal cultural heritage wherever possible. We recognise that these sites provide Aboriginal people with a direct link to their traditional culture.

We contribute to the protection of Aboriginal cultural heritage by respecting its presence in the landscape. This includes:

  • Aboriginal sites (objects) with artefacts
  • rock art
  • scarred trees
  • grinding grooves
  • engravings
  • middens
  • occupation deposits
  • Aboriginal Places. 

We carefully consider how to minimise or avoid impact on Aboriginal cultural heritage by:

  • diverting pipelines around Aboriginal sites and/or underboring
  • limiting works to areas that have been previously disturbed wherever possible.

To ensure we consider and respect the views of Aboriginal people about their cultural heritage, we openly consult throughout our projects.

Natural heritage sites feature physical and biological formations that have outstanding aesthetic or scientific values. They include:

  • geological formations 
  • paleontological (fossil) sites
  • habitat of threatened species of animals and plants
  • natural sites of outstanding value from the point of view of science, conservation or natural beauty. 

There over 160 natural heritage sites in our operating area.

We own three sites, which are also listed on the State Heritage Register under the NSW Heritage Act, that include natural heritage.

  • Bombo Quarry - geological formation
  • Botany Wetlands - Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub
  • Potts Hill Reservoirs & Site - remnant Cumberland Plain Woodland.

We acknowledge the value of conserving natural heritage places for present and future generations.

We're committed to complying with legislative and policy frameworks. This includes considering natural heritage values in environmental assessments before projects begin.

We maintain the Sydney Water/WaterNSW Historical Research Archive at West Ryde, located in the former Boiler House offices.

Our collection dates back to the beginning of the Board of Water Supply & Sewerage in 1888. 

We have photographs dating from 1890s to 1993. We’ve scanned over 70,000 negatives to preserve them for the future. 

The archive also has an extensive historical document collection and many small moveable heritage items.

Email our Archivist for more information. 
We maintain items of local and state significance.

Heritage items are grouped into four categories of significance -  Local, State, National and World. 

An example of a locally significant heritage item is wastewater pumping station No. 2 built in 1904.

Crown Street Reservoir is an example of a state significant heritage item.

Captain Cook’s landing place Kurnell, Botany Bay, holds  national significance and the Blue Mountains Wilderness Area has  world heritage significance.
Historic photo of interior of  turbine hall at Ryde pumping station

Sydney Water was established in 1888. A significant amount of the original infrastructure remains as heritage items.