A NSW Government website

Licensing and trade


Authorisations to construct certain works or carry out certain activities which can impact on land and water resources.

Approval types

Approval is required to carry out certain activities which can impact on land and water resources. There are 4 main types of approvals:

Water supply work approvals allow you to construct and use a work which takes water from a river, lake or aquifer. Works include pumps, bores, dams, weirs, irrigation channels, banks and levees.

Learn more about water supply work approvals.

Water use approvals allow you to use water on your land, including for irrigation, town water supply or power generation.

Learn more about water use approvals.

Controlled activity approvals allow you to carry out actions on waterfront land, including the bed of any river, lake or estuary, and the land on each side within 40 metres of the mean high water mark.

Learn more about Controlled activity approvals.

Flood work approvals allow you to construct and use a work which is in or in the vicinity of a river, estuary or lake, or within a floodplain, and is likely to have an effect on the flow of water to or from a river, estuary or lake, or the distribution or flow of floodwater in times of flood.

Learn more about flood work approvals.

Need help

NSW water regulation legislation and requirements in NSW can be complex. The department manages licences and approvals for the state’s largest water users while WaterNSW works with most other water users. 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.

Use the Water Assist tool

Other types of licences or approvals

Some works are covered by a groundwater licence rather than a water supply work approval. These works relate to aquifers and aquifer interference activities and are licensed under Part 5 of the Water Act. Groundwater works licensed under Part 5 include monitoring bores and artificial recharging into an aquifer.

Use Water Assist tool to find out more about applying for a groundwater licence.

Approval holders are able to amend an existing approval to alter existing works, add additional works or, to request a condition review. Holders can also apply to amend their water supply work approval to specify that some or all of the works authorised by the approval are 'inactive' or, to withdraw an inactive status.

Each approval issued by the department is approved for a specified timeframe. Approval holders may extend their approval beyond the initial approval period. Extension notices are sent to approval holders 60 days prior to expiry. The letter includes an application form and details of how to submit.

How long will it to take to get a licence or approval?

Water management is complex, so it takes time to work through the licensing and approvals process.

See how long it will take to process your application

Keeping a logbook about water take

Water users are required to record and report their water take. The department has developed logbook templates to assist licence holders to comply.

Fact sheet

More information on 'Keeping a logbook about water take'.

Download the fact sheet (PDF. 164KB)

Fact sheet

Find out which logbook template to use.

Download the fact sheet (PDF. 102KB)

Reducing red tape for water licences and approvals

Water licensing improvement program to transform water licensing and approvals for water users in NSW.

River Red Gums Eucalyptus camaldulensis on the banks of Murray River, Albury.

Controlled activity approvals

Find out what approvals you need to carry out works on waterfront land (controlled activities) and how to undertake this activity.

Controlled activity approvals.

Flood works approvals

Learn more about flood works approvals and their purpose, and how to apply for a new approval or to amend an existing one.


Water supply work approvals

Find out whether your works or water use require an approval, and if so, where to apply.

Aerial image of reservoir.