A NSW Government website

Floodplain management

Coastal Floodplain Drainage Project

A project to improve the rules for managing coastal agricultural drainage works in NSW.

A major drain servicing multiple properties.

About the project

The Coastal Floodplain Drainage Project commenced in 2019 and is one of several Marine Estate Management Strategy (MEMS) projects aiming to deliver healthy coastal habitats with sustainable use and development. The objectives of this project are to improve the regulatory framework for coastal agricultural drainage works and activities by:

  • addressing the complexity, time and costs associated with the approvals process
  • reducing the impact of these works and activities on downstream water quality, aquatic ecosystems, communities and industries.

The project’s focus is NSW coastal floodplains with extensive agricultural drainage systems, including the Tweed, Richmond, Clarence, Macleay, Hastings, Manning and Shoalhaven rivers.

The Water Group leads an interagency working group with representatives from the department’s Biodiversity, Conservation and Science Group, the Department of Planning, Housing and Infrastructure – Planning and Crown Lands, and the Department of Primary Industries – Fisheries.

Options report and supporting attachments


An overview of the options proposed to improve the regulatory framework for coastal agricultural drainage works.

Download the options report (PDF. 701KB)


Supporting information about the options report.

Download the supporting attachments (PDF. 5,500KB)
Moderate sized culverts with stainless steel floodgates.

We’ve answered frequently asked questions about the project.

The NSW Government is committed to improving the regulatory framework and water quality impacts associated with coastal floodplain drainage.

The Coastal Floodplain Drainage Project’s interagency working group has developed a report on options for reform that address the project’s objectives.

The six options are:

  • Option 1: one-stop shop webpage
  • Option 2: drainage applications coordinator
  • Option 3: concurrent assessment
  • Option 4: risk-based approach
  • Option 5: drainage work approvals under the Water Management Act 2000
  • Option 6: streamlining of Fisheries and Crown land approvals through the use of drainage work approvals

Each of the options could be implemented independently (except for Option 6) or in combination with others.

The options are evidence-based and take account of social, cultural, economic and environmental interests, including a range of stakeholder views expressed during consultation in 2020 and 2021.

The Options Report is accompanied by an Attachments paper that includes supporting information about the management of coastal floodplains.

Public consultation

Public consultation on the Coastal Floodplain Drainage Project Options Report closed on Sunday 21 April 2024.

Feedback will be collated into a ‘What we heard’ report and published on this web page. The working group will consider all feedback and then make recommendations to the relevant NSW Government Minister/s.

To stay informed about the project, we encourage you to subscribe to receive email updates from the Water Group, including our e-Newsletter.

Sign up

Public information sessions

Online information sessions have been held for interested stakeholders and community members to find out more about the options report.

The sessions were recorded and have been published below.

Watch the video

Session 1 – 5 March 2024 Watch the recording of the Coastal Floodplain Drainage community information session.

Watch the video

Session 2 – 8 March 2024 Watch the recording of the Coastal Floodplain Drainage community information session.

How the options were developed

The interagency working group initially consulted with local councils and peak bodies on the Coastal Floodplain Drainage Project in 2020 and 2021. The purpose of the consultation was to:

  • gain a better understanding of stakeholder concerns about the regulatory framework for drainage infrastructure
  • identify potential solutions to improve the framework.

The department's Water Group also independently consulted with local Aboriginal organisations to understand their cultural, spiritual and environmental concerns about drainage on coastal floodplains.

A What we heard report (PDF, 4031.28 KB) summarising the feedback from these consultations was used to guide the proposed options for reform.

Related links

The department’s Water group is also modernising the governance framework for joint private works schemes, including private drainage boards (drainage unions), which will simplify the rules for their administration.

Contact us

For more information or assistance reading the Options report and supporting attachments, please contact Water Enquiries.

Phone: 1300 081 047

Email: water.enquiries@dpie.nsw.gov.au

Image credit

All images used on this page and to promote the Coastal Floodplain Drainage Options Report have been supplied by the NSW Department of Primary Industries.