A NSW Government website

Home

Licensing and trade

Find information on the water licensing and work approval processes.

Assessment timeframes

The Licensing and Approvals team are currently experiencing extended delays in the issuing of licences, approvals and enquiry responses. These delays are expected until December 2022.

We apologise for the inconvenience these delays are having on our customers.

Visit Assessment timeframes for more information.

If you are a water user, it is your responsibility to make sure you obtain all necessary licences and approvals before taking water or starting any work near a water source.

Important information

WaterNSW is responsible for issuing most licences in NSW, with a focus on rural landholders and businesses. However, the department issues water access licences and associated approvals to larger water users such as irrigation corporations and government entities. It also issues all controlled activity approvals in the state, usually in concert with a development approval from your local council.

Previously, some of these approvals were managed by the Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR). These functions have been moved to the Department of Planning and Environment (you are on the correct website).

You can check which agency will manage your application by using our Water Assist (formerly called NRAR Assist) tool below.

The department understands that water regulation legislation and requirements in NSW can be complex.

If you are taking or using surface or groundwater, or you are undertaking an activity near a water source, it is your responsibility to make sure you follow the rules that manage water in NSW.

Gum trees by the river.

Get the answers you need

Do you need help to?

  • identify the correct government agency or entity for your enquiry or application
  • lodge an application for a water approval or licence
  • report a suspicious or unauthorised activity
  • ask a question.

Visit Water Assist

Looking for...

Approvals

Authorisations to construct certain works or carry out certain activities which can impact on land and water resources.

Licences

Licences to take water from a river, lake or aquifer.

Basic landholder rights

Water take without a water licence or approval in certain circumstances.

Dam at Sunset Landscape - Taken near Gresford, NSW.

Public notices

A list of current works approval applications, including information on how to object.

Trade

Water licences are a valuable asset. You can trade water access licences, licence shares and water allocations.

Compliance

Compliance with licence and approval requirements is critical to sharing of our precious water.

Hydro line spatial data

A dataset of mapped watercourses and waterbodies in NSW.

Governance

Departments and agencies with water management responsibilities in NSW.

NSW Water Register

Public access to information about water licences, approvals, water trading and environmental water.

Major projects

Major projects are state significant developments and infrastructure under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.