FAQs and contact us for help

We have created some frequently asked questions and answers.

Frequently asked questions

Can local water utilities supply water to rural landholders for stock watering purposes and/or vegetable growing purposes?

Yes – for water taken under a local water utility licence with no subcategory, subject to the water being supplied through the local water utility water supply scheme, it can be used for stock and/or vegetable watering for non-commercial and commercial purposes.

Yes – if the water is taken under a local water utility (domestic and commercial) water access licence, or water access licences with the subcategory ‘town water supply’, issued under the regulations and the water use is for non-commercial purposes e.g. pet animals, domestic vegetable garden.

No – if the water is taken under a local water utility (domestic and commercial) water access licence, or water access licences with the subcategory ‘town water supply’, and the water use is for income-generation purposes. This is because agricultural water uses like this do not fall within the definitions of ‘domestic consumption’ or ‘commercial activities’ that apply to the permissible purposes for these licences.

Can a local water utility supply to a commercial site? 

Yes – for water taken under a local water utility licence with no subcategory and/or water taken under a local water utility (domestic and commercial) water access licence, or water access licences with the subcategory ‘town water supply’.

Can a local water utility supply to industrial sites?

Yes, but only from a local water utility licence with no subcategory, subject to the water being supplied through the local water utility water supply scheme. Industrial purposes do not fall within the permissible water uses for local water utility (domestic and commercial) licences or water access licences with the subcategory ‘town water supply’.

Can local water utilities get water from outside their district, local water source or area of operation?

Yes, they currently do via pipelines, channels etc. These are known as connected regional networks and can go across multiple local water utility areas to resolve water security issues. An example is the Broken Hill water supply.

Can a local water utility construct and/or use a different work to the one nominated on their water access licence?

If a local water utility wants to obtain water from a different location in the water source, or from a different water source:

  • construction and use of any different water supply work must be authorised by an approval (unless an exemption applies)
  • the different water supply work must be specified on the water access licence that authorises the water to be taken (even if the water supply work is exempt from requiring an approval).

WaterNSW is responsible for processing and determining applications to change the nominated water supply work on a water access licence. This includes assessing the potential impact of taking water under the water access licence using the water supply work.

Contact WaterNSW about making an application to nominate a different water supply work.

Can a local water utility sell water allocations?

Yes, except if the allocations are from their local water utility access licences or licences with the subcategory ‘town water supply’ and the reduction would prevent the utility providing sufficient water to meet the needs of its supply area. However, local water utilities should be aware that continued selling of water allocations could result in their access licence entitlements being reduced.

Can local water utilities de-water a site (take water) in emergency situations?

De-watering is a form of water take. Public or private sector entities can carry out urgent dewatering in emergency situations under an exemption to the need for any of the following:

  1. a water access licence for the water removed
  2. a water supply works approval for the works used to remove the water
  3. a water use approval for the use of the water removed
  4. a controlled activity approval for works undertaken in the vicinity of a watercourse.

The activity must be work carried out urgently, as a direct result of an emergency event (defined in the Water Management (General) Regulation 2018), to remove groundwater or overland flow water for the purpose of reducing a significant risk to:

  • public health or safety
  • the environment, including groundwater systems
  • infrastructure or the construction of infrastructure.

It includes, for example, the removal of water from an excavation that must be dug to fix a burst water supply pipe or sewer pipe.

Emergency works are limited to doing only what is necessary to address the significant risk. Any further activities done once the immediate risk has been addressed are not covered by the exemption and the entity is required to apply for and hold relevant water access licence and approvals. Also, the exemption does not apply to any further (secondary) use of the water that is removed.

To rely on the exemption, certain information must be provided to NRAR before or as soon as reasonably possible after commencing the relevant emergency works. A completion report, including the volume of water removed, must then be submitted to NRAR within 14 days of completing the emergency works.

More information on this can be found on the emergency dewatering fact sheet (PDF, 564.19 KB).

Contact us

Talk to your Local Water Utilities regional contact at the Water Utilities branch of the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment. You can complete our online form or phone 02 9338 6600.

More information on water utilities can be found on our website: www.dpie.nsw.gov.au/water-utilities.

Contact NRAR by email at nrar.enquiries@nrar.nsw.gov.au or phone 1800 633 362.

Contact WaterNSW by email at Customer.Helpdesk@waternsw.com.au or phone 1300 662 077.