Domestic and stock rights are one type of basic landholder right under the Water Management Act, 2000 (section 52). These rights allow you to take and use water for domestic consumption and non-intensive stock watering without a water access licence or water use approval or in many cases a water supply work approval.
These rights apply if you own or occupy a parcel of land which:
- has river, lake, or estuary frontage, or
- is overlying an aquifer.
This is called your domestic and stock right.
You will need a water supply work approval if you wish to take water for domestic and stock rights using a bore, or to construct a dam to hold water taken using domestic and stock rights. More information about applying for these approvals can be found on the WaterNSW basic landholder rights webpage.
Where do domestic and stock rights apply?
Domestic and stock rights are held by those who own or occupy land which:
- has river, lake or estuary frontage, or
- is overlying an aquifer.
This is illustrated in the top two images below. The bottom images are examples of where domestic and stock rights to not apply.
What can you use your domestic and stock right for?
If you have a domestic and stock right, you can use the water you take for:
- domestic consumption, i.e. normal household purposes
- drinking water for stock animals (not including stock raised on an intensive commercial basis, that are housed or kept in feedlots or buildings for all - or a substantial part - of the time they are raised).
For examples of what you can and can’t use your domestic and stock right water for, view the Domestic and stock rights FAQs (PDF, 1MB).
Constructing a dam or bore for domestic and stock purposes
If you take water under your domestic and stock right using a bore, you need a water supply work approval to authorise its construction. You may also need a water supply work approval to build a dam.
An approval is required to ensure the construction of the dam or bore does not cause negative impacts on water sources and their dependent ecosystems, or other landholders’ access to water.
How do I apply for a water supply work approval?
WaterNSW is responsible for water approvals required by rural landholders.
For information about how you can apply for a water supply work approval to construct a dam or bore for domestic and stock purposes, visit the WaterNSW basic landholder rights webpage.
We have answered some frequently asked questions on domestic and stock rights.
The NSW Natural Resource Access Regulator (NRAR) is responsible for enforcement of NSW water law including domestic and stock rights, and undertakes monitoring, compliance and education activities for this purpose.
Domestic and stock rights review
The NSW Government has committed to reviewing domestic and stock rights as part of the NSW Water Strategy (Action 1.6).
Domestic and stock rights are one type of basic landholder right under the Water Management Act 2000 (section 52).
Domestic and stock rights allow you to take and use water for domestic needs and stock watering without a water access licence provided you own, or occupy, a parcel of land which has river, lake, or estuary frontage or is overlying an aquifer.
Currently, domestic and stock rights is largely unregulated. There are restrictions on the purposes water can be used for, as specified under section 52 of the Water Management Act 2000. Under that section, water can only be used for:
- domestic consumption: in relation to land, means consumption for normal household purposes in domestic premises situated on the land
- stock watering: in relation to land, means the watering of stock animals being raised on the land, but does not include the use of water in connection with the raising of stock animals on an intensive commercial basis that are housed or kept in feedlots or buildings for all (or a substantial part) of the period during which the stock animals are being raised.
Under section 336B of the Act the Minister may establish mandatory guidelines for the taking and use of water for domestic consumption and stock watering. This may include more clearly specifying the purposes this water can be used for, the circumstances in which it can be taken or limiting how much can be taken However, guidelines have not been established to date and there is no limit on the volume of water that can be taken.
Several reviews have recommended regulating domestic and stock rights as a logical next step toward improving water management in NSW. Recent droughts have raised further issues around the way water is taken and used under these rights during extreme dry periods.
With these issues in mind, the NSW Government has committed to review the use of domestic and stock rights and to consult with the community around its possible future regulation.
The department conducted Phase 1 of consultation from 21 August to 21 November 2023, seeking feedback via an online survey and peak industry stakeholder meetings. The online survey received over 2,000 responses and, along with the 3 peak industry stakeholder meetings provided comments, concerns and feedback on how the domestic and stock rights are used and perceived in the community.
This feedback is being considered and a What we heard report will be published.