Increase in harvestable rights for landholders in coastal-draining catchments

From early 2022, landholders in coastal-draining catchments of NSW will be able to capture up to 30% of the average regional rainwater runoff from their property in harvestable right dams built on non-permanent minor streams, hillsides and gullies, with the remaining run-off flowing into licensed dams and the local river systems, where it is shared among all water users and the environment.

This increase from a 10 percent to 30 percent limit follows a review and community consultation of harvestable right limits in coastal-draining areas of NSW. It will provide landholders in coastal-draining catchments with better access to water storage for specific purposes. The permitted uses are described below.

Permitted uses

Water captured under the increased harvestable right may only be used for domestic and stock use and extensive agriculture, as defined below.

Domestic and stock use

  • Domestic and stock use means for ‘domestic consumption’ and ‘stock watering’ as defined in s52(3) of the Water Management Act 2000, being:

domestic consumption, means consumption for normal household purposes in domestic premises situated on the land

stock watering, means the watering of stock animals being raised on the land, but does not include the use of water in connection with the raising of stock animals on an intensive commercial basis that are housed or kept in feedlots or buildings for all (or a substantial part) of the period during which the stock animals are being raised.

Extensive agriculture

extensive agriculture means any of the following—

(a) the production of crops or fodder (including irrigated pasture and fodder crops) for commercial purposes [NB. This does not include irrigation of crops (other than pasture and fodder crops) for commercial purposes, which is considered ‘intensive plant agriculture’],

(b) the grazing of livestock (other than pigs and poultry) for commercial purposes on living grasses and other plants on the land as their primary source of dietary requirements, and any supplementary or emergency feeding, or temporary agistment or housing for weaning, dipping, tagging or similar husbandry purposes, of the livestock,

(c) bee keeping,

(d) a dairy (pasture-based) where the animals generally feed by grazing on living grasses and other plants on the land as their primary source of dietary requirements, and any supplementary or emergency feeding, or temporary agistment or housing for weaning, dipping, tagging or similar husbandry purposes, of the animals.

The new limit and rules for coastal harvestable rights will come into effect in early 2022. Detailed assessments of each catchment will then be conducted to assess and confirm the 30% limit or recommend a lower or higher limit for that catchment depending on its specific characteristics. The department will continue to engage with stakeholders and provide updates on that process and any changes via the website and other channels, including the monthly Water News newsletter.

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Coastal Harvestable Rights Review

Visit the Coastal Harvestable Rights Review webpage for further information on the review and a What We Heard report (PDF, 5477.92 KB), which includes a government response to stakeholder feedback and submissions.

Frequently asked questions

For further information about the changes, see some frequently asked questions and answers, or call our Water Enquiries line on 1300 081 047.