A NSW Government website

Floodplain management

Improving Floodplain Connections program

Improving Floodplains Connections Program is a compliance program that focuses on improving floodplain connectivity in the northern Basin of inland NSW.

Hawkesbury River

About the program

The Improving Floodplain Connections program fast-tracks the process of bringing unapproved or non-compliant flood works into compliance across more than 100 priority areas in the northern Basin.

Without targeted funding, the work would take 15 years to complete. Through the Improving Floodplain Connections program, outcomes in connectivity will happen much faster.

The Improving Floodplain Connections program complements the floodplain management reforms introduced by implementing the NSW Floodplain Harvesting Policy. Unapproved flood works will not be authorised for floodplain harvesting, and this program will bring existing non-compliant flood works into alignment with current rules.

How water flows across our floodplain

Managing impacts

Structures likely to alter the flow of floodwater on or across a floodplain are called flood works. Flood works can alter the flow of floodwater and cause social, economic, environmental, and cultural impacts.  Ensuring flood works comply with the rules allows these impacts to be managed appropriately.

Over several decades, changes to legislation, policy and the development of floodplain management plans have resulted in many unapproved flood works in the northern NSW Murray-Darling Basin. These structures include levees, embankments, above-ground storage, and access roads.

To manage the impacts of these structures, flood works must meet the rules of the appropriate floodplain management plans.

Priority areas

More than 100 priority areas have been identified in the five northern Murray-Darling Basin valleys of Border Rivers, Gwydir, Namoi, Macquarie and Barwon-Darling.

Within each area, there may be one or several flood work structures, with some unapproved and some approved.

The priority areas were selected after an extensive assessment. The prioritisation process identified those locations where action under the program could produce the most benefit for floodplain connectivity. Prioritisation included analysis of hydraulic, ecological, and cultural impact. These impacts were assessed as part of a multi-criteria analysis.

As the program progresses, additional areas of concern may be prioritised for possible inclusion and for the notice of NRAR (Natural Resources Access Regulator).

Next steps

Work has begun in priority areas. Landholders are being contacted to collect initial information and assess the compliance situation of each flood work.

Where a flood work can be modified to make it legal, the program will provide technical support to assist the landholder with preparing an application for approval. Application fees will be waived.

If a flood work cannot be modified to make it legal, it must be removed. NRAR will oversee the removal. Landholders will be responsible for all construction costs related to either the modification or removal of the structure.

More information on how priority flood works will be brought into compliance is available in the Improving Floodplain Connections: Decision support principles and processes fact sheet. PDF, 199.99 KB

This fact sheet provides information for landholders on the separate stages of the program, including the initial assessment, site inspection by NRAR, and the assessment to determine the pathway to compliance. This fact sheet also explains the different roles of the department, NRAR and WaterNSW.

How we will communicate with you

We are committed to keeping stakeholders updated about the Improving Floodplain Connections program and how it might impact them. We will provide regular general updates and be in touch at specific times during the program. Landholders with flood works located within priority areas will also receive direct communication.

ValleyStage 1: preliminary assessmentStage 2: consultationStage 3: removal/modification
Border Rivers (pilot)Q3 2022 - Q2 2023Q1–Q2 2023Q1 2023 – ongoing
GwydirQ1–Q2 2023Q1–Q4 2023Q3 2023 – ongoing
Barwon-DarlingQ1–Q2 2023Q1–Q4 2023Q3 2023 – ongoing
MacquarieQ1–Q4 2023Q3 2023–Q2 2024Q1 2024 – ongoing
NamoiQ1–Q4 2023Q3 2023–Q2 2024Q1 2024 – ongoing

Funding the program

The Improving Floodplain Connections program is jointly funded by the Commonwealth Government ($10.196 million) and the NSW Government ($1.08 million). It is being delivered by the Department of Planning and Environment, NRAR and WaterNSW, in collaboration with the Department of Primary Industries.

Useful links

Frequently asked questions

Visit our FAQ page to find answers to commonly asked questions and gain a better understanding about harvesting floodplains.

See FAQs