In NSW, the taking of water and its subsequent use has historically been managed through a licensing framework under the Water Act 1912.
This licensing framework is transitioning to a new licensing and approval framework under the Water Management Act 2000.
This transition occurs through licence conversions when a water sharing plan which applies to those licences commences. This transition process is largely complete.
How are licences converted?
When a water sharing plan commences, Water Act 1912 licences in the water sharing plan area are automatically converted to:
- water access licence - if the Water Act 1912 licence authorised the taking of a specified volume of water from a water source,
- water supply work approval - if the Water Act 1912 licence authorised the construction and use of a water supply work
- water use approval - if the Water Act 1912 licence authorised the use of water on land.
Licences which are not converted
When a water sharing plan commences, if a Water Act 1912 licence in the water sharing plan area authorised:
- the taking of an unspecified volume of water from a water source, then the Water Act 1912 licence is not converted
- the construction and use a work for the purpose of drainage, then the Water Act 1912 licence is not converted in relation to the drainage work
- an aquifer interference activity, then the Water Act 1912 licence is not converted in relation to the aquifer interference activity
- the taking of water, or a work or activity which does not require a water access licence or approval under the Water Management Act 2000, then the Water Act 1912 licence is not converted and no longer has effect.
What happens when my licence is converted?
On the same day as a water sharing plan commences, all of the Water Act 1912 licences which are eligible to be converted are automatically deemed to be converted. This means all of the eligible Water Act 1912 licences are converted from a legal perspective, even though the administrative process of recording this licence conversion occurs after the water sharing plan commences.
On conversion, a water allocation account for the new water access licence is established. The water allocation account for the new water access licence has the same balance as the water account of the former Water Act 1912 licence.
Licence conversion process
- Licence holders are notified of the commencement of the water sharing plan and the conversion of their Water Act 1912 licence.
- New water access licences which replace previous Water Act 1912 licences are recorded on the Water Access Licence Register.
- The holders of a previous Water Act 1912 licence are verified and confirmed as the holders of the new water access licence and approvals. If the previous Water Act 1912 licence was held by more than one person, the tenancy arrangements between the holders is also confirmed.
- Any security interests registered against a previous Water Act 1912 licence are verified and confirmed as security interests against the new water access licence.
- A new water access licence certificate is issued to the licence holders.
- Licence holders receive copies of their new water access licence and approvals. Until this notification occurs, licence holders must continue to comply with the conditions of their previous Water Act 1912 licence.
Our department is responsible for carrying out licence conversions and also manages legislation relevant to licence conversions.
WaterNSW is responsible for customer services relating to licence conversions.