Are flood works used for floodplain harvesting?
Unauthorised flood works may stop water flowing where it needs to go on the floodplain. Floodplain harvesting (i.e. taking water from the floodplain) does not need to take place for an unauthorised flood work to be in potential breach of water laws.
Read more about our compliance approach to floodplain harvesting.
Why do I need to get authorisation before I construct, modify or use a flood work to divert water from a floodplain?
When an unauthorised structure diverts water from where it should flow on the floodplain it can have unexpected impacts on adjoining properties and the environment.
For example, if a landholder is aware of an upcoming flood event and extends the height of their levee bank without authorisation or an exemption from WaterNSW, the flow of the water becomes unpredictable and likely to bring consequences, such as flooding, for others.
WaterNSW assesses most flood-work applications in rural and regional NSW. The process includes a review of potential impacts on neighbouring properties and the surrounding area.
Any changes or modifications to flood works, such as an increase in levee height, must be authorised by WaterNSW, unless an exemption applies.
Exemptions allow for embankments to be constructed around farm structures such as a dwelling, shed/s or storage silos (subject to conditions), without requiring an approval.
Please refer to the WaterNSW website for further information.
What is NRAR’s compliance approach to unauthorised flood works during a flood event?
During a flood NRAR will:
- investigate complaints via assessment of flood impacted areas
- provide information on whether flood works (levees) are approved to assist local councils and NSW State Emergency Service (SES), who are best placed to respond to the impact of any flood works in the area and determine the appropriate action.
Will NRAR remove unauthorised flood works during a flood?
NRAR will work with emergency authorities in relation to any action required regarding unauthorised flood works.
Emergency authorities have the power to take action to remove or remediate levees that may be dangerous to life or property or that may interfere with the response of emergency services.
NRAR will continue to investigate complaints relating to unauthorised flood works and determine if enforcement action is appropriate on a case-by-case basis. NRAR may undertake site inspections in support of these investigations when flooding recedes, and it is safe for staff to do so.
NRAR will consider issues such as the impact of the unapproved works on other properties, the responsibility of the landholder and whether the various enforcement options would be in the public interest.
What do I do if I suspect an unauthorised flood work in my community?
You can search flood work approvals applicable to a particular property through the NSW Water Register.
For emergency help in floods and storms, call the NSW State Emergency Service: 132 500
In life threatening situations call triple zero: 000