A NSW Government website


Licensing and trade

Find information about water licensing, work approvals and water trading.

Licences and approvals to take, use or trade water

Water users must obtain all necessary licences and water supply work approvals before taking or trading water or starting work on waterfront land.

Explore below to find out how you can follow the laws for using water from surface and groundwater sources in NSW.

Common activities

Controlled activity approvals

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

Controlled activity approvals.

Apply for a water access licence

Information on all water licences, including how to apply, and the fees for each.

Groundwater bore pump.

Water supply work approvals

Do your works or water use require an approval, and if so, where to apply.

Aerial image of reservoir.

Use the Water Assist tool to find out what you need to do

The department manages licences for the state’s largest water users and for all activities on waterfront land, while WaterNSW works with most other water users.

We’ve developed the Water Assist tool to help you work out who to talk to and what steps to take to get the licences and approvals you need.

Use the Water Assist tool

How long will it to take to get a licence or approval?

Water management is complex, so it takes time to work through the licensing and approvals process. Some types of applications need more time.

Find out the assessment timeframe for your application

Find out more...


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


Find information on the water licensing and work approval processes.


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

Reducing red tape for water licences and approvals

Water licensing improvement program to transform water licensing and approvals for water users in NSW.

Basic landholder rights

Landholder rights to take water from a river, lake, aquifer or rainfall runoff without a water licence or approval in certain circumstances.

Major projects

State significant developments and infrastructure under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

Public notices

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