A NSW Government website


Controlled activity approvals

Find out what approvals you need to carry out works on waterfront land (controlled activities) and how to undertake this activity.

Hawksbury on an overcast day.

Healthy watercourses and waterfront land are vital to the community and environment. Because activities on waterfront land (called controlled activities) can threaten the health of our waterways, the department requires landholders to apply for a controlled activity approval for their works before they start.

Approvals usually contain conditions to minimise the impact of the activity or works on the waterway and adjoining land.

By requiring landholders to get a controlled activity approval before carrying out works on waterfront land, the department prevents activities that could alter water flow or quality, destabilise beds or banks of waterways, cause erosion, or disturb wildlife habitats.

Most controlled activities also need development approval from your local council. If this is the case, you will need to lodge what is known as an Integrated Development Assessment System Development Application (IDAS DA).

For further information and advice on controlled activities please use Water Assist.


If you need help please use Water Assist first. It is a simple web-based tool, that can help to answer all your questions.

If you can’t find the answer to your question, Water Assist will help you submit a specific enquiry that will be referred to an officer, who will help you further.

Gum trees by the river.

Water Assist

This tool will help you:

  • 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

What is a controlled activity?

Find out whether you need a controlled activity approval, what exemptions there are, and how to lodge an IDAS DA.

Hawksbury on an overcast day.

How to apply for controlled activity approvals

Application forms and guides, including ones to help you apply for a new approval or amend an existing one.

Guidelines and e-tools for controlled activity

Information on the types of activity that are classified as controlled activities.