Types of approvals

  • Water supply work approvals allow you to construct and use a work which takes water from a river, lake or aquifer.
    • Examples of water supply works are water pumps, water bores, dams, weirs, irrigation channels, banks and levees.
  • Flood work approvals allow you to construct and use a work which situated in or in the vicinity of a river, estuary or lake, or within a floodplain, and is likely to have an effect on the flow of water to or from a river, estuary or lake, or the distribution or flow of floodwater in times of flood.
    • Examples of flood works are barrages, causeways, cuttings, embankments, levees to prevent inundation of flood waters, building pads and below ground channels.
  • Water use approvals allow you to use water on your land.
    • Examples of water uses which require approval are irrigation, town water supply, power generation and mining.
  • Controlled activity approvals allow you to carry out particular types of activities in, on or beside rivers, lakes and estuaries.
    • Examples of these activities are erecting a building, removing or depositing material, removing vegetation, constructing a bridge, causeway or other kind of watercourse crossing, laying pipe and cables, and constructing stormwater outlets.

Approvals can have conditions to mitigate potential impacts and protect the environment.

Basic landholder rights

You do not need a water supply work approval for:

  • pumps, pipes, troughs or tanks to take and store water from a river under a landholder right, or
  • harvestable rights dams.

You do need a water supply work approval to construct a dam which is not a harvestable right dam or a bore to take water under a landholder right. This is to ensure the dam or bore is constructed properly and will not cause negative impacts on the water source, environment or other water users.

You do not need a water use approval to use water for domestic consumption, stock watering or native title rights.

How do I get a new approval? 

You can apply for a new approval by submitting an application to the responsible agency.

Some types of applications for new water supply work approvals must be advertised. This allows other people in the local area to make an objection to the granting of the application. The responsible agency endeavours to resolve any issues raised by an objection before making a decision about whether to grant the application.

Your application may be refused if the responsible agency considers that the proposed work or activity will have more than a minimal impact on a water source or the environment.

Approvals cannot be traded to another person or location.

What happens if I buy land which already has an approval?

If you buy land with an existing approval, you will generally become the approval holder.

This means you will be able to use the approved work or carry out the approved activity in accordance with the terms and conditions of the approval. You will need to obtain a water licence to take water unless a landholder right or licence exemption applies.

You will not become the approval holder in certain circumstances, including if the approval is already held by a water utility, irrigation corporation, private irrigation board, private drainage board, or private water trust.

Information about existing approvals is available on the NSW Water Register. You can search for information about approvals relating to a specific landholding or a water source.