Flood work approvals

Flood work approvals

What is a flood work?

A flood work means a work that is:

  • situated in or in the vicinity of a river, estuary or lake, or within a floodplain, and is
  • of such a size or configuration that (regardless of the purpose for which it is constructed or used), it is likely to have an effect on the flow of water to or from a river, estuary or lake, or the distribution or flow of floodwater in times of flood.

Examples include:

  • a barrage
  • a causeway
  • a cutting
  • an embankment
  • a levee to prevent inundation of flood water
  • a storage structure
  • a building pad
  • a below ground channel

Flood works also include all associated pipes, valves, metering equipment and other equipment.

A flood work approval statement specifies the:

  • Expiry date: Flood work approvals are generally issued for 10 years.
  • Authorised flood works: Lists the work type, the parcel of land where the work is authorised to be constructed and used, and any relevant floodplain management plan details.
  • Conditions: Relevant conditions for the flood work/s.

Note that flood work approvals do not authorise approval holders to take (i.e. to harvest or capture) water. The capture of water flowing across a floodplain will require a floodplain harvesting access licence and a water supply work approval authorised under the Water Management Act 2000. Floodplain harvesting access licences are yet to be issued.

Why is a flood work approval required?

Flood work approvals help to manage water on floodplains. An approval may be granted after assessing whether the work may have significant impacts on the floodplain environment, neighbouring properties or health and safety, or whether particular conditions to minimise any impacts may be required.

Applications for approvals for flood works in areas governed by floodplain management plans will also be determined by the rules of the plan. These floodplain management plans will apply floodplain management planning arrangements consistently across the extent of major flooding in a valley.

Floodplain management plans developed under the Water Management Act 2000 include management zones, which are areas of the floodplain where specific rules will define the types of flood works that may be constructed within that management zone. Development of these management zones and rules is partly based on consideration of the footprint of existing flood works.

For information on new floodplain management plans for the Gwydir, Border Rivers, Namoi, Macquarie and Barwon Darling Valleys, go to An overview of Floodplain Management Plans under the Water Management Act 2000 (PDF, 141 KB).


Some activities considered low-risk or covered by other legislation are exempt. Please see Understanding exemptions to flood work approvals (PDF, 594.55 KB) for more information on the exemptions from the need to obtain an approval to construct and use a flood work.

Information about existing approvals

Use the online NSW Water Register to search for information about:

  • the status of flood work approvals granted by DPI Water, including conditions
  • approval applications.

Applying for a flood work approval

For application forms, guides and fee information, go to Applications and fees.

Step 1 - Before lodging an application for an approval

A pre-application meeting with a Water Regulation Officer is recommended to discuss the proposed activity, likely impacts, the application process and the information required. The pre-application meeting is a free service.

Step 2 - What happens after WaterNSW receives the application?

Applications will be assessed according to WaterNSW’s assessment procedures and guidelines.

If an application for a flood work approval does not comply with the relevant floodplain management plan, or the plan requires advertising, the application will need to be advertised.

Applications subject to Integrated Development under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 do not require advertising under the Water Management Act 2000.

WaterNSW will either determine to grant this application with appropriate conditions or refuse it. Applicants will be advised in writing of the determination and, if granted, a flood work approval will be issued.

Step 3 - What happens after I receive my flood work approval?

The approval will allow you to construct and use a flood work at a specified location authorised by the approval and the conditions applying to this.

Extending a flood work approval

Before the expiry date of replacement flood work approvals, approval holders will be advised they may apply to extend their approval for a period of ten years.


Tuesday 07 July
2,080,018 ML
2,581,850 ML
9,484 ML
1,355 ML
-22,824 ML
Tuesday 07 July