Dams & Waterways

Chifley Dam

Dam Capacities 

Date: 6 February 2024
Chifley Dam: 99.2%
Winburndale Dam: 71.4%

Blue Green Algae Alerts at Chifley Dam - Chifley Dam is OPEN for all water-based recreational uses.

Recreational Alert AMBER
Livestock Drinking Water Alert           YES


Alerts last updated 01 March 2024.

Blue-green algae (Cyanobacteria)
What is it?

Blue-green algae are naturally occurring bacteria which are often found in Chifley Dam. In small numbers, the blue-green algae are of little concern. However, under some conditions blue-green algae can form large colonies. Blooms can appear quickly and may last hours, days or weeks. They decrease water quality and can pose a risk to human and livestock health through the release of toxins

Sunlight, warm temperatures, and water high in nutrients create conditions favourable for growth.

What are the risks to human health?

Some species produce toxins that can cause irritation of the skin and eyes, vomiting, diarrhoea, and dizziness.

Exposure to the toxins produced by some blue-green algae species can lead to long-term health issues such as cancer, liver damage and other chronic diseases.

What should I do?

Stay out of the water if you see scums or changes in water colour. Stay out of the water if the dam is closed to water-based recreation.

If in doubt stay out!

Council's Monitoring Program

Council closely monitors the water quality at Chifley Dam in accordance with accepted guidelines. Council staff collect water samples from a number of locations in the water storage. These are sent to a NATA (National Association of Testing Authorities) accredited laboratory for analysis. As the risk of blue-green algae blooms increases, Council adjusts the frequency and type of monitoring to match the current conditions. 

Recreational Alerts

Council closely monitors the water quality at the dam and follows the three recreational alert levels set by WaterNSW:


This alert level represents bloom conditions. The water looks green and the blue-green algae may be seen as clumps or scums (blooms). There may be a strong odour or musty smell. These blooms should be considered toxic to both humans and animals. All contact with the water should be avoided. Water should not be used for drinking, cooking, stock watering, or recreational purposes. At this alert level, Chifley Dam is closed to all water-based recreation. Two subsequent results (from samples each taken a week apart) below the red alert level must be received before the alert is adjusted. 


Blue-green algae may be multiplying. The water may have a green tinge with a musty taste or odour. The water is generally suitable for recreational use, but people should use caution and avoid areas where the water appears to have a green tinge.


Potentially toxic blue-green algae are detected at low levels. The blue-green algae do not pose a threat to recreational use.

Livestock  Alerts

A High Alert for livestock drinking water is separate to the system of recreational alerts. It is put in place when there are high levels of potentially toxic blue-green algae that could affect livestock health.

During High Alerts, stock owners should seek alternative supplies of livestock drinking water.

More Information

General information on blue-green algae is available at WaterNSW.

Details on blue-green algae alerts is available at WaterNSW.


Chifley Dam Monthly Storage Graph(PDF, 274KB)

Estimated Residential Water Usage Graph(PDF, 428KB)




Application to hold an event/activity at Chifley Dam

Chifley Dam

Bathurst Regional Council requires early notification from organisations envisaging to stage an organised event/activity at Chifley Dam. Council will only approve an organised event/activity, subject to meeting the following requirements and conditions. Please provide preliminary advice as early as possible regarding the event/activity you wish to hold at the Chifley Dam - 6 months or earlier would be ideal. The Application Form and information is attached here...(PDF, 1MB)

If the event/activity requires use of the waterways of Chifley Dam, the organising group must obtain an Aquatic Licence from Transport for NSW before proceeding with application or a confirmation from the Transport for NSW that a licence is not required. Please contact Roads and Maritime (Transport for NSW) on 13 12 36 or visit their website for further information.

Once the application and documentation is completed please email the completed paperwork back to Council or contact Council to is discuss the event/activity on (02) 6333 6100.

Please note that approval must be granted from Council before an event or activity at Chifley Dam can go ahead.



Winburndale Dam

Winburndale Dam is on the Winburndale Rivulet in the Winburndale Nature Reserve, east of Bathurst.

The dam has a catchment area of approximately 88km2 and a storage capacity of around 1,700ML

A $16 million upgrade of the dam has just been completed, with the NSW Government providing $2.2million towards the project. The remainder was funded by Council.

The dam project is the largest upgrade since the dam was built in the 1930s and will help drought proof the city’s water supplies.

The dam walls were strengthened using 25 post-tensioned ground anchors to bring it in line with modern safety standards ensuring it can withstand all kinds of weather and floods.

Local builders Eodo took 48 months to complete the project – you can see the lifespan of the project via incredible time lapse footage below.

There is no public access to the dam. 

Dam Safety

Chifley Dam

The dams safety legislation requires all declared dam owners to publish an annual dams safety standard report for their dam. 

Section 14 (4) of the Dams Safety Act 2015 requires a declared dam owner to publish a report demonstrating the owner's compliance with the dams safety standards. 

Clause 26 of the Dams Safety Regulation 2019 (the Regulation) requires the dam owner to provide a copy of the report to Dams Safety NSW, in a form approved by Dams Safety NSW. Further details on the requirements are available from the Dams Safety NSW Website.

A copy of the most recent Annual Dams Safety Standards Report for both Chifley Dam and Winburndale Dam are provided below: 

Chifley Dam(PDF, 2MB)
Winburndale Dam(PDF, 2MB)


Living and Working around Waterways

Rivers and Creeks

Everyone has a responsibility to ensure rivers, creeks and streams continue to be healthy and productive for future generations.  Below is some important information to help you look after waterways and comply with current laws aimed at protecting them. 

How can I do the right thing?

It is your responsibility to determine what approvals are required and obtain permission from the relevant authorities for any proposed works before any riverbank work commences.  The best way to do this is to talk to your local Council first before you undertake any works or contact the other State agencies listed below. These works are often assessed as 'integrated development' by your local Council and require approval from other State agencies before Council can approve the works.

These agencies include:

•Department of Primary Industries 1300 550 474 (Fisheries NSW, Crown Land Division and NSW Office of Water) for Fisheries NSW in the first instance – for those works listed above www.dpi.nsw.gov.au

• NSW Roads and Maritime Services 13 12 56 if the works are associated with boating activities or may affect navigation www.rms.nsw.gov.au/maritime

• Local Land Services 1300 795 299 (formerly Catchment Management Authority (CMA) www.lls.nsw.gov.au

What if I don't get an approval before working around waterways?

Failure to get the necessary approvals can result in hefty fines and costly cleanup orders.  If you live or work on the bank of a river or stream, you play an important role in the health of our inland waterways, click here for a downloadable information brochure(PDF, 804KB).