Licensing and approvals
Before you take, use, trade water, or start work on waterfront land in NSW; you must obtain all necessary licences and approvals.
Our goal is to provide sustainable management of water and to protect, enhance and restore rivers and water sources through the creation of policy, considered assessment and issuing of licences and approvals.
Find out how to apply, our policies on water licences, and how you can follow the laws regarding water below.
Controlled activity approvals are required for developments carried out on waterfront land. You may also need approval from your local council.
You will need a water access licence or a water supply work and/or water use approval to take water from a river, lake, or aquifer to use on your land in NSW.
Flood work approvals let you build and use structures that affect water flow in rivers, estuaries, lakes, or the distribution of floodwater in times of flood.
Major projects may need to apply for water licences or approvals under certain circumstances to ensure the proposed development is sustainable.
Find the right application forms and fees for your water-related licences and approvals. Easily lodge, amend, extend, or surrender your licences or approvals.
Basic landholder rights
Landholders can take water under basic landholder rights without a water licence or approval in certain circumstances under the Water Management Act 2000.
Keeping a logbook about water take
Water users are required to record and report their water take. The department has developed logbook templates to assist licence holders to comply.
Water licences are a valuable asset. You can trade water access licences, licence shares and water allocations. Manage your trades on the trade dashboard, or learn more about trading water in the trade section. The Department formulates policies relating to trade of water licences, and conducts public consultations and research to facilitate water market reform.
Reducing red tape for water licences and approvals
The NSW government has pledged $14.8 million in the 2022-23 budget to streamline and simplify the water licensing and approvals process. Find out what changes are coming, how they affect you, and when.