A NSW Government website

Licensing and trade


Departments and agencies with water management responsibilities in NSW.

The beautiful lake and Scenery at Emmaville, New South Wales, Australia.

About governance

Responsibilities for granting and managing water licences and approvals are shared between the department and WaterNSW.

The department is responsible for water licences and approvals required by or for:

  • Councils
  • State or Commonwealth government agencies or authorities
  • Major water utilities, water supply authorities or irrigation corporations
  • Aboriginal commercial, Aboriginal community development, Aboriginal cultural or Aboriginal environmental subcategories of access licence
  • Licensed network operators under the Water Competition Act 2006 (NSW)
  • Entities carrying out activities under the Mining Act 1992 (NSW), the Offshore Minerals Act 1999 (NSW), the Petroleum (Onshore) Act 1991 (NSW) or the Petroleum (Offshore) Act 1982
  • State Significant Development of State Significant Infrastructure.

The department is also responsible for all controlled activity approvals for work carried out in, on or beside rivers, lakes and estuaries. Visit approvals for more information.

WaterNSW is responsible for water licences and approvals required by:

  • Rural landholders
  • Rural industries
  • Developments which are not state significant development or state significant infrastructure

WaterNSW is also responsible for managing trade of water access licences, licence entitlements and water allocations.

Read more information and find application forms and guides.

Healthy Floodplains Project

The healthy floodplains project reforms the management of water on floodplains through the development of plans and licensing of harvesting

Royal spoonbill in the upper Gingham Wetlands, Gwydir Wetlands in Moree.

Independent peer reviews on floodplain harvesting

This program provides a framework for regulating and managing water extraction from floodplains that balances the needs of water users and

Gwydir wetlands.