A NSW Government website

Licensing and trade

Water access licences and approvals

Find information on the water licensing and work approval processes.

Water access licences and approvals

The state government controls the use and flow of all water in rivers, lakes, and aquifers. You may need a water access licence or a water supply work and/or water use approval to take water from one of these sources.

Shared responsibility for licences and approvals

The department and WaterNSW share responsibility for granting and managing water access licences and water supply work approvals. Visit the Water Agencies page to find out which entity will manage your licence or approval.

Visit Water Agencies

Water supply work and/or use approvals

These types of approvals allow you to use water from a river, lake or groundwater source.

There are several works that are not covered by the Water Management Act 2000. These must be licensed under the Water Act 1912.

This type of water supply work approval applies to bores that will only be used for stock and domestic purposes.

Water access licences

Water access licences permit the licence holder to take a specified volume of water from a specified water source under the terms of the licence.

A water access licence with zero licence shares will not be credited with any water allocations as the licence has no share in the available water.

This licence is granted for a specific purpose, such as: local water utility and town water supply, domestic consumption or Aboriginal cultural or commercial purposes.

This type of water access licence can only be granted if you have first acquired the right to apply through a controlled allocation process.

Exemptions for water access licences and approvals

You don’t need to apply for a water access licence, water supply work, or water use approval if an exemption applies.

Find out about exemptions

Advertising and objections

Some types of water supply work and/or use approval applications must be advertised for a certain period of time to allow members of the community to lodge objections.

See all advertised applications

Not sure about what you need?

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.