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How to comply

Flood works

Unauthorised flood works stop water getting where it should on the floodplain and are an enduring regulatory priority for NRAR. This means we will continue to regulate water users with unauthorised flood works that divert water from important cultural or environmental landmarks.

What is a flood work?

A flood work is typically a barrage, causeway, cutting, embankment or levee that is positioned on, or near, a river estuary or lake or on a floodplain (an area of low-lying ground next to a water source). 

Flood works are likely to influence the flow of water to or from a water source, or the distribution or flow of floodwater after heavy rain.

Flood works must be authorised to ensure they don't have a negative effect on the environment, private property or the community.

If you are a landholder, you can apply for a flood work approval via the WaterNSW website.

If you are a large water user such as an irrigation corporation or government entity, you can apply for a flood work approval via the Department of Planning and Environment - Water website.

How we regulate unauthorised flood works

Under the Water Management Act 2000, any flood work that is constructed or modified either without an approval or outside of the conditions of an approval is non-compliant.

Our unauthorised flood works program is focused on structures that stop water from getting where it needs to go on the floodplain. We are a risk-based regulator and will approach unauthorised flood works in the same way.

We will:

  • work closely with the Improving Floodplain Connections Program, that is focused on bringing unapproved flood works in the northern Basin into compliance with the requirements of floodplain management plans. Access more information about this program on The Department of Planning and Environment - Water’s website.
  • respond to reports of non-compliance from the community or intelligence led campaigns and act when we find unauthorised flood works that divert water from important cultural or environmental assets, including significant impacts on water users' access to water.
  • act when we find unauthorised flood works without approval, as well as flood works that are constructed or modified in a way that is in breach of the terms and/or conditions of the approval.

We will move from the north to the south of NSW and will primarily be focused on regulated floodplains with existing management plans. We may also look at unregulated floodplains of high ecological, economic or cultural importance.

How we will respond to non-compliance

We respond in a range of ways to non-compliance depending on the potential harm caused to the environment or other water users, the offender’s culpability and compliance history as well as their attitude to the non-compliance.

Compliance responses include for example, in increasing severity: guidance and education material, advisory letters, warnings, corrective actions, statutory directions, stop work order licence suspension/cancellation and prosecution.

We are a firm but fair regulator and will consider each case on its merits.

Frequently asked questions about flood works

Are these works used for floodplain harvesting?

This program is focused on unauthorised flood works that stops water getting from where it needs to go on the floodplain. Floodplain harvesting doesn’t need to take place for an unauthorised work to be in breach of our water laws.

NRAR will start a separate program focused on ensuring that any water taken from the floodplain is done legally when the department issues floodplain harvesting licences this year.

More information about our floodplain harvesting compliance approach will be available soon.

How do I authorise my flood work?

An approval is required to authorise your flood work. If you are a landholder, you can apply for a flood work approval through WaterNSW here. The Department of Planning and Environment - Water provides flood work approvals to larger irrigation corporations and government entities.