Frequently asked questions

These FAQs provide information for landholders who take groundwater under their domestic and stock rights.

What are domestic and stock rights?

Landholders can take and use water for domestic consumption and stock watering without certain authorisations if their land has river, lake, or estuary frontage, or is overlaying an aquifer1.

This is called domestic and stock rights, which is a type of basic landholder right.

Does the landholder have to be the owner of the land?

No. For domestic and stock rights to apply, the landholder can be the owner of the land or a lawful occupier2. A lawful occupier includes a person with a lease, easement or Crown land licence.

What authorisations are required to take groundwater under domestic and stock rights?

A water supply work approval is required to take groundwater with a water bore under domestic and stock rights.

A water supply work approval for a water bore may authorise:

  • the construction and use of the bore generally – in this case the water taken can be used for any purpose by the landholder, subject to any other authorisations
  • the construction of the bore under domestic and stock rights only – in this case the water taken can only be used by the landholder for domestic consumption and stock watering.

There is no requirement to obtain a water access licence or water use approval for domestic and stock rights, as exemptions apply3.

Information on how to apply for a water supply work approval is available at  www.waternsw.com.au/customer-service/water-licensing/applications-and-fees.

How do I find out if my water supply work approval is for domestic and stock rights only?

Use your approval number to check the record for your approval on the NSW Water Register.

If the approval record says the kind of approval is ‘basic rights’, then your water supply work approval is for domestic and stock rights only.

If I do not have domestic and stock rights, can I still take groundwater for domestic and stock purposes?

Yes. The take of water must be authorised by a water access licence, and the construction and use of the water bore must be authorised by a water supply work approval, unless other exemptions apply.

What can water taken under domestic and stock rights be used for? 

Water taken under domestic and stock rights can only be used for domestic consumption and stock watering by the landholder.

What is domestic consumption?     

Domestic consumption means the use of water for normal household purposes in connection with a dwelling or domestic premises which are situated on the land where the water is taken. This includes water for drinking, laundry, or watering a garden connected to the household.

Domestic consumption does not relate to commercial activities.

What is stock watering?

Stock watering is the provision of water to stock animals being raised on the land for drinking, and for other purposes to maintain health and hygiene.

Stock watering does not mean:

  • the provision of water to stock animals in an intensive commercial basis, where the animals are housed or kept in feedlots or other building types, or
  • the irrigation of feed for stock animals.

What water meter requirements apply under the new non-urban water metering rules? 

The new non-urban water metering rules require most water supply works, including water bores, to have metering equipment. Some exemptions apply for low-risk works.

Do I need a water meter on a bore used only for domestic and stock rights? 

No, a water meter is not required for a water bore used only for domestic and stock rights.

This is because, if the water supply work approval for a water bore authorises:

  • the construction of the bore for domestic and stock purposes only, there is no requirement to install a water meter under the new non-urban water metering rules as an exemption applies4
  • the construction and use of the bore generally, and if the bore is only used to take water for domestic and stock rights, then the approval is not required to be nominated by a water access licence and an exemption from the non-urban water metering rules applies5.

Do I need a water meter if I use the same bore to take water under a water access licence and domestic and stock rights?

Yes, a water meter is required for a water bore used to take water under a water access licence and domestic and stock rights, unless an exemption applies. For example, if the bore’s diameter is below a certain size then an exemption may apply depending on the bore’s location6.

If you need a water meter, the date when the meter must be installed and operating depends on:

  • your location, and
  • whether you are already required to have a meter under the water sharing plan rules.

For more information, go to www.industry.nsw.gov.au/water/metering.

What happens if the water sharing plan in my area changes and the conditions on my water supply work approval change?

You will be notified of any changes to the conditions of your water supply work approval.

Generally, any changes are most likely to occur when the water sharing plan is remade or amended.

All new conditions apply immediately, but only in relation to future activities. Future activities include:

  • bore construction, such as requirements for headworks to enable the control of water flow, requirements if contaminated water is encountered, and requirements to submit information using a “Form A
  • decommissioning bores which are no longer being used to ensure they are safe and contaminated water cannot enter the bore.

There is no impact on past activities as the new conditions do not apply retrospectively.

1. Water Management Act 2000, section 52.
2. Water Management Act 2000, Dictionary section.
3. Water Management Act 2000, section 52.
4. Water Management (General) Regulation 2018, clause 231(1)(d).
5. Water Management (General) Regulation 2018, clause 231(1)(g).

6. Water Management (General) Regulation 2018, clause 231(3).