Water Supply (Critical Needs) Act

The Water Supply (Critical Needs) Act 2019 creates a temporary pathway for the Minister for Water, Property and Housing to authorise critical water infrastructure developments which are urgently needed to secure water supplies for regional towns in the current drought where this cannot be achieved through the usual planning approval pathways in time to prevent a town or locality running out of water.

The Act also enables the Minister to turn off or modify the Water Management Act 2000 to speed up the granting or amendment of water licences and approvals required for critical town water supplies. The Minister can also use other mechanisms already available such as amending water sharing plans, and modify water sharing arrangements in favour of towns, where needed, with concurrence of the Minister for Energy and Environment.

How the Act applies

Under the Act, town or locality water supplies and associated water supply developments can be declared as critical where the Act is likely to provide the only pathway for proponents to legally and practically address the risk of water supplies running out prior to this happening.

This declaration allows public authorities, such as local councils and WaterNSW, to then apply for an authorisation for proposed developments under a streamlined pathway.

This pathway involves consultation with all relevant authorities and concurrence of the Minister for Energy and Environment. Authorisations are issued with conditions to ensure developments are carried out appropriately.

The Act also declares certain development relating to dams to be critical State significant infrastructure.

More information

Information for public authorities about the process for declaring a new town or locality water supply or development as critical can be obtained by contacting the relevant Departmental Water Utilities Regional Manager.

For Information requirements you can download this fact sheet (PDF 381.1 KB) or visit our Water Supply (Critical Needs) Act Frequently Asked Questions.

Alternatively, contact landuse.enquiries@dpi.nsw.gov.au for more information about the process or to check the progress of a submitted application.