A NSW Government website

Floodplain management plans

Developing floodplain management plans

An introduction to the development of floodplain management plans and the planning process.

Hawkesbury River

Floodplain management planning process

How floodplain management plans work

Floodplain management plans provide the framework for coordinating flood work development to minimise future changes to flooding behaviour; improving the environmental health of floodplains and increasing awareness of risk to life and property from the effects of flooding.

Floodplain management plans establish management zones and rules which provide clarity about where flood works may be constructed on the floodplain and to streamline the approval process for new and amended flood works.

The floodplain management planning approach has been revised in response to changes to the legislative and policy framework that governs water management in New South Wales. The floodplain management planning approach has been updated to satisfy the provisions of the Water Management Act 2000, which requires floodplain management plans to:

  • identify the existing and natural flooding regimes
  • identify the ecological benefits of flooding
  • identify existing flood works
  • deal with the risk to life and property from flooding.

Floodplain management planning involves making decisions to coordinate the development of flood works to meet the social, economic, ecological and cultural needs of a floodplain and floodplain landholders. Floodplain management plans deal with proposals for new flood works and the modification of existing flood works.

Floodplain management plans also:

  • specify which parts of a plan can be changed
  • set out monitoring and reporting requirements, including indicators against which performance of a plan is to be monitored. The Natural Resources Commission reviews floodplain management plans.

Some activities considered low-risk or covered by other legislation are exempt from the rules in floodplain management plans. For more information go to flood work approvals .

Independent review

An Interagency Working Group oversees the preparation of floodplain management plans. Key experts from the NSW Department of Primary Industries (agriculture and fisheries interests) and the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (water, environmental and First Nations interests) are represented on this group. Experts from Local Land Services, the Natural Resources Access Regulator and WaterNSW may also attend meetings of the Interagency Working Group to provide advice on consultation activities and other matters relevant to their expertise.

The Interagency Working Group reviews the preparation of floodplain management plans at three key stages:

  • prior to Stage 1 public consultation
  • prior to Stage 2 public exhibition
  • prior to the preparation of floodplain management plans for commencement.

All feedback from consultation processes for the preparation of floodplain management plans is reviewed by the Interagency Working Group prior to updating the plan.

How plans are prepared

The NSW Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water coordinates the preparation of floodplain management plans. The planning process is guided by a technical manual for rural floodplain management plans PDF, 2950 KB under the Water Management Act 2000.

Our Water Group develops technical content on advice from a technical advisory group and drafts the floodplain management plans. It leads consultation and engagement and facilitates the review process. An Interagency Working Group conducts the review.

Floodplain management plans are Minister’s plans under Section 50 of the Act. They require the endorsement of the Minister for Water and concurrence of the Minister for the Environment prior to commencement.

Community consultation

Community input into the preparation of floodplain management plans is critical to ensuring that each plan deals with local issues in a practical way.
Public consultation for each new floodplain management plan happens over 2 phases:

Stage 1 – early feedback on key elements of the floodplain management plan including localised variances to some rules.
Stage 2 – public exhibition of the draft floodplain management plan in the statutory plan format for a minimum period of 40 days.

Consultation is open to all stakeholders and submissions received during each consultation period are considered by the Interagency Working Group when preparing floodplain management plans for commencement.

The department has developed fact sheets for First Nations communities:

Plan status

Floodplain valleyStatusCommencement date
Gwydir ValleyCommenced12 August 2016
Barwon-Darling ValleyCommenced30 June 2017
Upper Namoi ValleyCommenced7 June 2019
Lower Namoi ValleyCommenced11 September 2020
Border Rivers ValleyCommenced11 September 2020
Macquarie ValleyCommenced24 September 2021
Murrumbidgee ValleyBeing developedTo be advised
Murray ValleyBeing developedTo be advised
Billabong ValleyBeing developedTo be advised
Lachlan ValleyBeing developedTo be advised

Amendments to floodplain management plans

The fact sheet, Amendments to floodplain management plans (PDF, 177KB)) provides an overview of the process for amending floodplain management plans.

Suggested amendments to any rural floodplain management plan may be submitted anytime by emailing the Water Group at floodplain.planning@dpie.nsw.gov.au.

Potential amendments are collated in an amendment register held by the department. This register is reviewed on a regular basis by department staff who make a determination whether an amendment is to be progressed, and, if so, the timeframe for the progression.

Supporting documents

Contact us

If you require assistance in reading these documents, please contact 1300 081 047 or  water.enquiries@dpie.nsw.gov.au