Water sharing plan rules for floodplain harvesting

Implementation dates for the NSW Floodplain Harvesting Policy have changed following disallowance of amendments to the Water Management (General) Regulation 2018 in 2020, 2021 and 2022, that defined the process for issuing floodplain harvesting licences and the measurement requirements on those licences. More recently, there was a disallowance of Water Management (General) Amendment (Floodplain Harvesting Access Licences) Regulation 2022 that defined the process for issuing floodplain harvesting licences on 21 September 2022. The amendments to the regulation defining measurement requirements for licences was not part of the disallowance on 21 September 2022.

The disallowance does not alter the validity of floodplain harvesting licences already determined for eligible water users in the NSW Border Rivers and Gwydir Valleys. The licensing framework commenced in these valleys on 15 August 2022 and this latest disallowance has no effect on the requirements to measure and manage floodplain harvesting in these valley.

The department is committed to this important reform to ensure limits on take and measurement requirements, for floodplain harvesting in all Northern Basin valleys. Licensing will bring floodplain harvesting into line with other forms of take, enabling monitoring and management and providing certainty in the provision of water required for the environment and other water users.

The Healthy Floodplain Project is bringing floodplain harvesting into the licensing system. As part of that, rules have been established for how water will be taken by floodplain harvesting licences.

Over a phased roll-out, public consultation is being held on each of the water sharing plans, where we seek feedback and public comment on the proposed rules.

After public exhibition has closed the department will collate submissions and publish a "What we heard” report that summarises the outcomes of the process. The final step will be to include rules in the appropriate water sharing plans and issue floodplain harvesting licences.

Rules have commenced in water sharing plans for the NSW Border Rivers, Gwydir and Macquarie valleys.

Have your say on the draft rules

The department is seeking feedback on water sharing plan rules for floodplain harvesting licences in the five northern valleys of the Murray-Darling Basin in northern NSW:

What we are consulting on

The five key rules in the water sharing plans that we are asking for your feedback on are:

  • account management rules
  • available water determinations
  • permanent trade rules
  • access arrangements, including rules to protect environmental flows
  • amendment provisions

Account management rules

The department has developed an animated video that illustrates the proposed account management rules and highlights considerations such as:

  • Is the accounting period appropriate to the resource?
  • How large will the entitlements be with these accounting rules?
  • Will the rules drive a change in behaviour?
  • Will the rules encourage growth of floodplain harvesting?

Attend a consultation session and submit your feedback

The draft water sharing plan rules for floodplain harvesting licences will be on public exhibition in each of the five valleys in the northern Murray–Darling Basin.

For more information and key dates visit stakeholder engagement.


NSW Healthy Floodplains Project 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.