A NSW Government website


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.

Approval required for waterfront activities

Controlled activities are actions carried out on waterfront land, as defined in the Water Management Act 2000. You must obtain an approval from the department to carry out activities on waterfront land unless you have an exemption. This helps protect the health of our waterways.

Waterfront land is defined as the bed of any river, lake or estuary, and the land on each side within 40 metres of the river bank, lake shore or estuary’s mean high water mark.

Controlled activities are:

  • erecting a building
  • carrying out works
  • removing material from waterfront land, such as plants or rocks
  • depositing material on waterfront land, such as gravel or fill
  • any activity which affects the quantity or flow of water in a water source.

Examples include:

  • modifications to a watercourse, such as erosion control works and channel realignment
  • construction of bed control measures
  • construction of watercourse crossings such as bridges, causeways and bed level crossings, and ancillary works, such as roads
  • construction of stormwater outlets and spillways
  • construction of boat ramps and sea walls
  • laying pipes and cables
  • sand and gravel extraction.

Most controlled activities also need development approval from your local council. If this is the case, you will need to lodge what is known as an Integrated Development Assessment System Development Application (IDAS DA).

Use the Waterfront land e-tool to help you determine whether the site of your proposed project is classed as waterfront land.

Some works may be exempt from requiring a controlled activity approval.

Use the Controlled Activity Exemption e-tool to see your project is eligible.

Need help?

Uncertain about your controlled activity? Use the Water Assist tool to find out who to talk to.

How to apply for controlled activity approvals

Application forms and guides, including ones to help you apply for a new approval or amend an existing one.

Guidelines and e-tools for controlled activity

Information on the types of activity that are classified as controlled activities.