Sydney has grown from a small colony, to a global city of over 4.8 million people who all rely on water to survive. 

Before European settlement, Aboriginal people got their drinking water straight from natural sources like rivers, creeks and wetlands. Since that time, Sydney has grown from a colonial settlement relying on the Tank Stream for its drinking water to a large city relying on a range of water supplies which all still rely on the natural environment.

Sydney Water was established in 1888. Since then over 200 items have been heritage listed.

The Tank Stream was chosen in 1788 by Captain Phillip as the place to build the first settlement in Australia. This was because there was a deep harbour for boats and a fresh water stream to get water from. The small village of Sydney relied on the water from this stream as its main water source for the next 40 years.

Second coat of bituminous enamel being applied
Maroubra Service Reservoir - excavation for overbreak concrete.
Suction Main. Making Lead Joint.

Sydney Water was established in 1888 and helped Sydney grow from a small colony to a global city. Over time many buildings and structures were built to supply water and remove wastewater. Some are still used today, but many are now important heritage items. We have over 200 heritage items. Some are open for people to visit. They’re a reminder of our history and how far we’ve come.

Want to learn more about Sydney Water’s history and the Tank Stream?


Want to learn more about our 200 Heritage listed assets and locations?


We’ve helped make Sydney a liveable city for over 125 years and we’re proud of our role in shaping the lifestyle of Sydney, the Blue Mountains and the Illawarra.