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 .
An Interagency Regional Panel oversees the preparation of floodplain management plans. Key experts from the NSW Department of Primary Industries (agriculture and fisheries interests) and the Department of Planning and Environment (water and environmental interests) are represented on this panel. Experts from Local Land Services, the Natural Resources Access Regulator and WaterNSW may also attend meetings of the Interagency Regional Panel to provide advice on consultation activities and other matters relevant to their expertise.
The Interagency Regional Panel reviews the preparation of floodplain management plans at three key stages:
- prior to targeted consultation
- prior to 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 Regional Panel prior to updating the plan.
How plans are prepared
The NSW Department of Planning and Environment 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 Regional Panel conducts the review.
Floodplain management plans are Minister’s plans under Section 50 of the Act. They require the endorsement of the Minister for Lands and Water and concurrence of the Minister for the Environment prior to commencement.
Community input into the preparation of floodplain management plans is critical to ensuring that each plan deals with local issues in a practical way.
Early in the process for preparing floodplain management plans the department road tests the key concepts with key stakeholders during targeted (informal) consultation.
Feedback received from targeted consultation is considered by the Interagency Regional Panel when preparing floodplain management plans for public exhibition.
Floodplain management plans are advertised and placed on public exhibition for a minimum period of 40 days. Public exhibition of floodplain management plans is open to all stakeholders and includes a formal submissions process.
Submissions received during the public exhibition period are considered by the Interagency Regional Panel when preparing floodplain management plans for commencement.
The department has developed fact sheets for First Nations communities:
|Floodplain valley||Status||Commencement date|
|Gwydir Valley||Commenced||12 August 2016|
|Barwon-Darling||Commenced||30 June 2017|
|Upper Namoi Valley||Commenced||7 June 2019|
|Lower Namoi Valley||Commenced||11 September 2020|
|Border Rivers Valley||Commenced||11 September 2020|
|Macquarie Valley||Commenced||24 September 2021|
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 Department of Planning and Environment at email@example.com.
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.
- Floodplain management under the Water Management Act 2000: A guide to the changes (PDF, 143 KB)
A guide to the transition of floodplain management planning from the Water Act 1912 to the Water Management Act 2000 in NSW.
- An overview of floodplain management plans under the Water Management Act 2000 9PDF, 176 KB)
A general, plain English explanation of the key provisions of floodplain management plans.
- Draft rural floodplain management plans: Technical manual (PDF, 2.9 MB)
A general description of the method employed for the preparation of floodplain management plans under the Water Management Act 2000.
Floodplain management plans in the northern Basin prepared under the NSW Healthy Floodplains Project which is funded by the Australian Government’s Sustainable Rural Water Use and Infrastructure Program as part of the implementation of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan in NSW.