Harvestable rights - dams

The department is currently undertaking a review of harvestable rights for the entire coastal region. The review will explore potential benefits and impacts of both increasing the harvestable rights percentage, as well as allowing harvestable rights dams on third order streams.

The department aims to release a discussion paper, including a comprehensive modelling report, open a public submissions period, and undertake community consultations in the first half of this year, before submitting final recommendations to the Water Minister before the end of the year.

Landholders can collect a proportion of the rainfall run-off from their property in one or more dams on non-permanent minor streams, hillsides and gullies without a water licence, water supply work approval, or water use approval.

The proportion of rainfall run-off you can capture under your harvestable right depends on where your land is located:

  • In the Central and Eastern Divisions of NSW, up to 10% of average annual regional rainfall run-off can be captured.
  • In the Western Division of NSW, all rainfall run-off can be captured.

The boundaries of these harvestable rights areas are shown in the map below.

Boundaries of these harvestable rights areas

Harvestable rights orders

The harvestable rights areas and the rules for capturing rainfall run-off in those areas are specified in Harvestable Rights Orders, which are published in the NSW Government Gazette. The rules specified in the Orders relate to issues including:

  • how much run-off can be captured in a location
  • where harvestable rights dams may and may not be located
  • the method for calculating the Maximum Harvestable Right Dam Capacity  for a property, including what types of dams are included and excluded from the calculation
  • arrangements for sharing harvestable rights water where a harvestable rights dam crosses a property boundary
  • the method for calculating the harvestable right water available from a dam which is also used for other water rights (a 'mixed right dam').

The current Harvestable Rights Orders are available in the NSW Government Gazette number 40 dated 31 March 2006 at pages 1628 to 1631.

Information about the total dam capacity allowed under harvestable rights for your property, and where you can build a dam without a water licence or approval, is available on the WaterNSW website.