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Drought, floods and extreme events

Water for bushfire preparedness and firefighting

Providing access to water for bushfire preparedness and firefighting.

Bushfire along a creek in the NSW snowy mountains. Image courtesy of David Barnes.

Consultation is now closed

What is water for bushfire preparedness and firefighting?

When bushfires threaten a region, landholders need fast and easy access to water to wet down buildings and surrounding areas and suppress the fire front to save the lives of people and animals and prevent asset damage.

The department has reviewed the regulatory framework applying to the take of water to prepare landholdings for an imminent bushfire and fight an active fire. We are trying to find a way for landholders and occupiers (including community groups) to be able to take small volumes of water for this purpose in a cost-effective way, while acknowledging the need to manage the impacts of any additional water take on the environment and other water users.

We prepared a proposed package of changes in collaboration with the NSW Rural Fire Service and other water-agency partners. The department sought feedback from the community on the proposed changes.

A background paper and supporting material are also available:

Proposed changes

This paper set out the proposed approach for improving access to water for bushfire preparedness and firefighting.

Rural town water tanks. Image courtesy of Jason King,

Background paper

More information about the issue and the process.

Supporting documentation


Answers to frequently asked questions about the proposals we consulted on.

Frequently asked questions

Videos that supported the consultation process

Watch the video

Presentation 1 – Why the review is happening and the objectives.

Watch the video

Presentation 2 – What we have done so far and the options considered.

Watch the video

Presentation 3 – Water for bushfire preparedness and firefighting, the proposed approach.

Watch the video

Presentation 4 – Have your say and next steps.

Next steps

The department consulted with the general community on the proposed changes between 25 March and 17 May, 2024.

The project team will now collate the feedback received and discuss it with the Technical Advisory Group. Final recommendations will then be made to the Minister for Water.

A “What We Heard” report summarising the feedback received during public consultation will be prepared and published on the webpage in mid-2024.