Floodplain harvesting licensing

Floodplain harvesting is the capture and use of water flowing across a floodplain. It is the last substantial form of water take to be licensed in NSW, and licensing will regulate it, meaning the NSW Government can better account for it and ensure it is compliant with rules and limits.

Licensing process

The licensing process for floodplain harvesting first commenced in 2013 in accordance with the NSW Floodplain Harvesting Policy. As a result of the recommendations of the independent review of the department’s implementation of the policy, in 2020 a farm scale validation process was also carried out. The section below provides more information on that process.

Section 57A of the Water Management Act 2000 (the Act) provides for special provisions relating to replacement floodplain harvesting access licences to be made in the Water Management (General) Regulation 2018 (the Regulation). Floodplain harvesting licences for the NSW Border Rivers and Gwydir Valleys were determined on 21 February 2022 in accordance with Part 2A of the Regulation, which establishes the eligibility criteria for a replacement floodplain harvesting access licence, the process that must be followed to determine the share component for a replacement floodplain harvesting access licence and how to determine the licence category that an eligible landholder will receive.

For information on how the department has complied with requirements for determining replacement floodplain harvesting licences under the Regulation, refer to the fact sheet on Compliance with regulations for issuing licences PDF, 256.52 KB.

Farm scale validation

See amendments to water regulations for floodplain harvesting .

The eligibility of works capable of floodplain harvesting were determined using  the following sources of information:

  • data collection by department staff during onsite property inspections
  • information provided to the department by landholders
  • historical remote sensing data
  • climatic records
  • topographic and parish maps
  • floodplain models
  • observed rainfall, streamflow and headworks storage records
  • published literature
  • data and information provided by duly qualified practitioners.

For further information on the farm scale validation process please refer to the Licensing Farm Scale Validation Process PDF, 640.18 KB.

Farm scale validation process

NSW Healthy Floodplains Review Committee

The NSW Healthy Floodplains Review Committee was established to:

  • Facilitate the orderly and equitable consideration of landholders’ requests to be considered eligible for a floodplain harvesting licence.
  • Review and assess submissions by the floodplain harvesting registrants with respect to the department’s determinations of eligibility of works or draft entitlements for replacement floodplain harvesting (unregulated river) access licences, except for the Barwon-Darling valley.

Membership of the committee is by invitation from the Deputy Secretary, NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment – Water. The committee operates under established Terms of Reference.

Landholders received a letter to notify them of the determinations made by the NSW Healthy Floodplains Review Committee for eligible works and submissions on the volumetric entitlements for replacement floodplain harvesting (unregulated river) access licences, except for the Barwon-Darling valley. These letters advised landholders of the recommendations made to the department, for each issue raised in their submissions. The letters also confirmed that the department would consider the NSW Healthy Floodplains Review Committee’s advice and communicate its final determination to landholders in due course.

At completion of the licensing process, final determinations will be used to issue floodplain harvesting access licences.

The Healthy Floodplains Review Committee meeting minutes are published in the Healthy Floodplains library.

Independent peer reviews

Both Maddocks and Alluvium were engaged to undertake independent reviews during the course of the Healthy Floodplains Project. For more information and to read the reports visit the Independent peer reviews on floodplain harvesting page.