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Water licensing and approvals

Groundwater WAL exemptions for 3ML and Botany Sands

Two exemptions from having a Water Access Licence (WAL) are:

  • for taking less than or equal to 3ML of groundwater per year in any water source (3ML or less exemption)
  • for taking greater than 3ML of groundwater per year for excavation dewatering in the Botany Sands Groundwater Source only (Botany Sands exemption).

These exemptions relate only to a WAL. If relying on either exemption, you are still required to hold other relevant approvals such as a water supply work approval.

The 3ML or less exemption applies only to aquifer interference activities not involving take of water for consumptive use or supply. For example, the exemption applies to water taken to ensure safe and efficient excavation when constructing buildings, but not to water taken for irrigation or town water supply.

The Botany Sands exemption applies only for groundwater taken through dewatering to conduct excavation for buildings, roads and infrastructure. This exemption applies to the Botany Sands Groundwater source only and ends 1 July 2023 or when a controlled allocation of access licences occurs, whichever happens first.

The table below summarises key differences between the two exemptions:

Exemption Groundwater Source applies toQuantityExpires
3ML or less Any <=3ML No expiry date
Botany Sands (3ML or more) Botany Sands1 >3ML 1 July 20232
1 As at end July 2021, but can include others if listed for that purpose in the Gazette.
2 Or when a controlled allocation of access licences occurs.

If you are unsure whether either exemption applies, fact sheets are provided under more information below.

You must record and report the water taken in the approved form and manner no later than 28 days after a water year finishes (i.e. by 28 July) if you are relying on either exemption. The form is to be submitted by:

  • NRAR water users to NRAR
  • WaterNSW water users to WaterNSW.

Please visit Which agency do I lodge my application with? to determine if you are an NRAR or WaterNSW water user.

Recording and reporting water taken

  1. Download and complete the Record of groundwater take under exemption (PDF, 392.86 KB) form
  2. send the completed form to nrar.enquiries@nrar.nsw.gov.au


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