Flood work approvals

Information about flood work approvals

What is a flood work?

A flood work refers to a work (such as a barrage, causeway, cutting or embankment) 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. Flood works can include all associated pipes, valves, metering equipment and other equipment.

Why is a flood work approval required?

Flood work approvals ensure that the construction or use of a flood work does not negatively affect water sources and their dependent ecosystems, or other water users; and minimises the existing and future risk to human life and property.


Floodplain management plans

FMPs have been prepared for five valleys in Northern NSW, and work is now underway on replacement FMPs for the Southern Murray–Darling Basin.

Applying for a new or to amend an existing flood work approval

Step 1: Pre-application meeting

To start the process of applying for a flood work approval, WaterNSW require all applicants to book a pre-application meeting. During the pre-application meeting, WaterNSW will discuss the details of the proposed application with you (and/or your consultant) and provide general advice in relation to the assessment process.

WaterNSW can also assist you in checking the provisions of the applicable floodplain management plan (FMP). Where no FMP exists, WaterNSW can assist you to understand the requirements within the Technical Guideline for flood work applications in areas with no FMP.

Book a pre-application meeting with WaterNSW. You can schedule a pre-application meeting by indicating your preferred date/s on the Request for a flood work pre-application meeting form (PDF, 296.62 KB) or by booking a meeting online and selecting the 'flood work'. If booking online, please ensure the completed pre-application meeting form is completed and emailed to WaterNSW as the information you provide on this form will allow us to fully understand and discuss your new or existing flood work.

What to expect at the pre-application meeting?

WaterNSW will discuss your proposal with you, together with the provisions of the applicable floodplain management plan (FMP). Where no FMP exists, WaterNSW can assist you to understand the requirements within the Technical Guideline for flood work applications in areas with no FMP.

Following this meeting, should a flood study (hydraulic modelling report) be required, WaterNSW will provide you with the required inflow data to facilitate completion of a modelling report. You may then be required to engage a certified Hydraulic Modeller to complete a report and submit this to WaterNSW with your flood work approval application.

What is a flood study?

A flood study may be requested if you want to apply to construct and use a non-compliant flood work, a flood work in a zone which does not permit such a work or a flood work outside a FMP area but still within a floodplain.

If a flood study is required, it must be prepared by a suitably qualified person and address the following:

  • potential impacts of flood works on other landholders
  • analysis of existing and future risk to human life and property arising from proposed work
  • identification of the existing and natural flooding regimes in the area, in terms of the frequency, duration, nature and extent of flooding
  • risk to life and property from the effects of flooding
  • potential impacts or changes on the flow of water to or from a river, estuary or lake, the passage, flow and distribution of floodwater, existing dominant floodways and exits from floodways, rates of flow, floodwater levels and duration of inundation, downstream water flows and the natural flood regimes.

Step 2: Complete your application

Step 3: WaterNSW receives the application

WaterNSW will:

  • check all relevant details have been provided - please note incomplete applications will be returned to the applicant/s.
  • advertise the application if required by the Water Management Act 2000 (WMA).
  • complete all searches required e.g. presence of Threatened species (PDF, 264.42 KB), Native Title claims, NSW Heritage etc.
  • contact the applicant/s and arrange a field inspection if required.
  • WaterNSW will have any flood study provided independently assessed, and this assessment will be based on the flood study submitted with the application.

    WaterNSW will determine whether to grant this application with the 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 4: If approval is granted

A flood work approval allows you to construct and use a flood work at the specified location as authorised by the approval.

What do you need to do?

Note: It is an offence under the WMA to contravene a term or condition of an approval. The Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) is responsible for compliance with water law in NSW, including ensuring compliance with conditions on water access licenses (WALs) and approvals.


Extending a flood work approval

Letters to approval holders notifying them about applying to extend an approval are posted by WaterNSW before the expiry date of the approval.

The letter notifying you to apply to extend a flood work approval includes a personal application number for you to use our Water Applications Online service to apply and pay online.

If your notification letter does not include this number you will need to fill in the hard copy application form posted to you with your notification letter.

Please note: Approval holders are responsible for ensuring their approvals remain valid and up to date. Failure to do so may result in late fees.

For more information, please refer to our FAQs - Extend your approval (PDF, 143.36 KB)

Steps to extend your approval once you receive your notification letter

1. Apply to extend the duration of your approval before the expiry date. You can do this by using our Water Applications Online service and clicking on 'Visit Water Applications Online’. Then select 'Start new application’ and then select ‘Extend an approval’. When requested enter the personal application number (found on your letter).

Please note: If your letter does not contain a personal application number, you will need to fill out the hard copy application form posted to you with your letter.

2. Pay the application fee. For details of the application fee please visit our Applications and fees webpage. If you do not make this payment by your expiry date, a late application fee will apply.

Alternatively, if you no longer require your approval, please contact us on 1300 662 077.

Flood study requirement for flood work applications in management Zone C or CU

Flood work approvals help to manage water on floodplains. Approvals for a flood work are governed by floodplain management plans (FMPs) and their rules, which specify the types of flood work that may be constructed within that management zone.

Applicants for flood work approvals may be required to submit a flood study report to demonstrate that a flood work meets the criteria as outlined in the plan.

FMPs in the Northern Murray-Darling Basin do not include a specific requirement for a flood study to be completed as part of the assessment and determination of applications for flood works in management zone C or CU.

In relation to management Zone C or CU, flood studies will be required in Zone C or CU where:

  • The proposed works have potential to impact high value infrastructure when compared to the existing development conditions, or
  • There are existing works in the vicinity that have a limited height condition, or
  • Where modifying an existing approval, the proposal includes re-alignment to the outer protection banks, creating a new or restoring an old flow path, or
  • The area has been identified by NSW The Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (NSW DCCEEW) as requiring further investigation and possible amendment in relation to the management zone designation.
  • Where the flood works may not satisfy the relevant clauses of the Floodplain Management Plan for Zone C.
  • In other instances where WaterNSW deems a flood study to be required.

Floodplain management plan spatial data

Floodplain boundary, management zones and ecological assets - for the northern valleys is now published on The Central Resource for Sharing and Enabling Environmental Data in NSW (SEED) and the NSW DCCEEW interactive map.

The data is published as a map service, rather than downloadable shapefiles or geodatabases.

For instructions on how to add ArcGIS Server map services, refer to the following ESRI instructions. This is helpful for landholders or their consultants who want to view the data in ArcMap or ArcGIS PRO.

Guidelines for flood work applications in areas without a floodplain management plan

There are many areas across NSW where there are no existing floodplain management plans (FMP). For these areas, a Technical guideline for flood work applications in areas without a FMP is available.

Floodplain management planning process

Please find further information on how floodplain management plans work, how they are prepared and the process of community consultation on the NSW Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water's website.

Flood work applications and resources

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