Floodplain management plan program

Floodplain management plans are currently being prepared for rural floodplains as part of the transition of water management from the provisions of the Water Act 1912 to the provisions of the Water Management Act 2000.

Floodplain management plans provide the framework for coordinating the development of flood works on a whole-of-valley basis.

The first floodplain management plans to be prepared under the Water Management Act 2000 are for the five valleys of the Murray-Darling Basin in northern New South Wales: the Gwydir, Namoi (Upper and Lower), Barwon-Darling, Macquarie and Border Rivers.

Floodplain management plans are being prepared as part of the implementation of the NSW Healthy Floodplains Project , which commenced in 2013 to reform the management of water on floodplains through the preparation of floodplain management plans and the work to licence the take of floodplain harvesting water.

Watch the video below – Developing floodplain management plans

Developing Floodplain Management Plans

Floodplain management planning process

How floodplain management plans work

Floodplain management plans provide the framework for coordinating flood work development to minimise future changes to flooding behaviour; improving the environmental health of floodplains and increasing awareness of risk to life and property from the effects of flooding.

Floodplain management plans establish management zones and rules which provide clarity about where flood works may be constructed on the floodplain and to streamline the approval process for new and amended flood works.

The floodplain management planning approach has been revised in response to changes to the legislative and policy framework that governs water management in New South Wales. The floodplain management planning approach has been updated to satisfy the provisions of the Water Management Act 2000, which requires floodplain management plans to:

  • identify the existing and natural flooding regimes
  • identify the ecological benefits of flooding
  • identify existing flood works
  • deal with the risk to life and property from flooding.

Floodplain management planning involves making decisions to coordinate the development of flood works to meet the social, economic, ecological and cultural needs of a floodplain and floodplain landholders. Floodplain management plans deal with proposals for new flood works and the modification of existing flood works.

Floodplain management plans also:

  • specify which parts of a plan can be changed
  • set out monitoring and reporting requirements, including indicators against which performance of a plan is to be monitored. The Natural Resources Commission reviews floodplain management plans.

Some activities considered low-risk or covered by other legislation are exempt from the rules in floodplain management plans. For more information go to flood work approvals .

Independent review

An Interagency Regional Panel oversees the preparation of floodplain management plans. Key experts from the NSW Department of Primary Industries (agriculture and fisheries interests) and the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (water and environmental interests) are represented on this panel. Experts from Local Land Services, the Natural Resources Access Regulator and WaterNSW may also attend meetings of the Interagency Regional Panel to provide advice on consultation activities and other matters relevant to their expertise.

The Interagency Regional Panel reviews the preparation of floodplain management plans at three key stages:

  • prior to targeted consultation
  • prior to public exhibition
  • prior to the preparation of floodplain management plans for commencement.

All feedback from consultation processes for the preparation of floodplain management plans is reviewed by the Interagency Regional Panel prior to updating the plan.

How plans are prepared

The NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment coordinates the preparation of floodplain management plans. The planning process is guided by a technical manual for rural floodplain management plans (PDF 2.9 MB) under the Water Management Act 2000.

Our Environment, Energy and Science Group develops technical content on advice from a technical advisory group. This group includes key experts in water management from NSW Government and other agencies.

Our Water Group drafts the floodplain management plans. It leads consultation and engagement and facilitates the review process. An Interagency Regional Panel conducts the review.

Floodplain management plans are Minister’s plans under Section 50 of the Act. They require the endorsement of the Minister for Water, Property and Housing and concurrence of the Minister for the Environment prior to commencement.

Community consultation

Community input into the preparation of floodplain management plans is critical to ensuring that each plan deals with local issues in a practical way.

Early in the process for preparing floodplain management plans the department road tests the key concepts with key stakeholders during targeted (informal) consultation.

Feedback received from targeted consultation is considered by the Interagency Regional Panel when preparing floodplain management plans for public exhibition.

Floodplain management plans are advertised and placed on public exhibition for a minimum period of 40 days. Public exhibition of floodplain management plans is open to all stakeholders and includes a formal submissions process.

Submissions received during the public exhibition period are considered by the Interagency Regional Panel when preparing floodplain management plans for commencement.

Progress update

Floodplain valleyStatus Commencement date
Gwydir Valley Commenced 12 August 2016
Barwon-Darling Commenced 30 June 2017
Upper Namoi Valley Commenced 7 June 2019
Lower Namoi ValleyCommenced11 September 2020
Border Rivers ValleyCommenced11 September 2020
Macquarie Valley Public exhibition complete October 2020

Supporting documents

Acknowledgement

Floodplain management plans are being prepared under the NSW Healthy Floodplains Project which is funded by the Australian Government’s Sustainable Rural Water Use and Infrastructure Program as part of the implementation of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan in NSW.

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    Barwon-Darling valley floodplain

    The floodplain management plan includes management zones, rules and assessment criteria for granting or amending approvals for flood works.

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    Upper Namoi valley floodplain

    The floodplain management plan includes management zones, rules and assessment criteria for granting or amending approvals for flood works.

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    Border Rivers valley floodplain

    The floodplain management plan includes management zones, rules and assessment criteria for granting or amending approvals for flood works.

  4. waterdrop

    Gwydir valley floodplain

    The floodplain management plan includes management zones, rules and assessment criteria for granting or amending approvals for flood works.

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    Lower Namoi valley floodplain

    The floodplain management plan includes management zones, rules and assessment criteria for granting or amending approvals for flood works.

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    Macquarie valley floodplain

    The draft floodplain management plan includes management zones, rules and assessment criteria for granting or amending approvals for flood works.

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    Historical floodplain management plans

    A listing by area of all rural floodplain management plans in NSW.