In those water sources (rivers, lakes and groundwater aquifers) in NSW where water sharing plans have not commenced, the Water Act 1912 still governs the issue of new water licences and the trade of water licences and allocations.
To find out whether a river or aquifer is in a water sharing plan go to commenced water sharing plans or phone licensing enquiries on 1800 353 104 or email email@example.com.
Note that a number of embargo orders apply to water sources outside water sharing plans. For more information on groundwater embargo orders, go to Embargo orders applying to groundwater outside water sharing plan areas.
Under the Water Act 1912 you must have a water licence or authority to:
In some water sources covered by the Water Act 1912, new water licences may still be granted. However, in other areas there is an embargo in place, particularly on water licences for irrigation and industry. In these areas you can only obtain licences for specific exempt purposes (such as town water, stock and domestic supply, domestic hydro-electric schemes, snow-making or short term permits for road maintenance, hydro-static testing of pipelines, drought relief).
In some areas you may be able to purchase and transfer a licensed entitlement from an existing licence holder. For more information refer to the section below on Trading water under the Water Act 1912.
In general a Water Act licence covers both the right to take a specific volume of water as well as the works to be constructed. Most Water Act licences for commercial purposes need to be renewed every five years.
For more information on groundwater licences go to Groundwater licences under the Water Act 1912 – Frequently asked questions.
Former controlled works approvals under the Water Act 1912 have now been replaced with a flood work approval under the Water Management Act 2000. The replacement flood work approvals will reflect the controlled works which were formerly authorised by those approvals.
For more information go to flood work approvals.
There are two types of water trades available under the Water Act 1912:
As a general guide:
There are separate guidelines for transfers and concessional conversions in the Barwon-Darling Unregulated River.
An application for permanent transfers of surface or groundwater must be lodged with the NSW Office of Water.
The application forms need to be completed by both the buyer and the seller. For permanent surface water transfers and some ground water transfers the buyer also needs to submit an application form for a new licence which will be created as part of the transfer. For more information go to Guidelines on applying for a water licence under the Water Act 1912 (PDF 188 KB)
The NSW Office of Water will check that the application is consistent with the trading rules. If so, procedures for processing a transfer apply, which include environmental assessment and an advertising and objection process.
If the application for the licence is approved the NSW Office of Water will notify both parties and the contracts can be settled. Once settled the new and replacement licences will be issued to the buyer and seller.
Applications for temporary transfers of surface or groundwater should be lodged with State Water.
An assessment will be undertaken to check if there are any supply constraints which would prohibit the transfer:
The NSW Office of Water charges fees to cover the assessment and processing costs of applications for licences and water transfers under the Water Act 1912. For a schedule of fees, go to Fees under the Water Act 1912.
Barwon-Darling Unregulated River water licence holders are able to participate in permanent and temporary transfers in accordance with the rules set out in the Barwon-Darling Unregulated River – water transfer rules (PDF 552 KB). Permanent transfers allow licence holders to buy and sell Murray-Darling Basin Cap shares, while temporary transfers allow licence holders to buy and sell account water.
The water transfer rules provide opportunities on the Barwon-Darling for individuals to access additional water and for new or expanding commercial enterprises to access water via the water market without resulting in overall growth in extractions above the Murray-Darling Basin Cap. Water trading enables water to move to its highest value use and also ensures that NSW continues to meet the objectives of the National Water Initiative to progressively remove barriers to trade and facilitate the broadening and deepening of the water market.
These rules will apply until the Water Sharing Plan for the Barwon-Darling Unregulated and Alluvial Water Sources commences. More information on the draft plan.
Licence holders must apply to the NSW Office of Water to temporarily trade account water, or permanently trade Cap share. Each application will be assessed to determine likely impacts on other water licence holders and the environment. Procedures for permanent transfers involve an advertising and objection process.
For more information go to Frequently asked questions or contact us.
Barwon-Darling Unregulated River water licence holders can now transfer Murray-Darling Basin Cap share from one licence class to another (eg. from C Class to B Class) to reinstate their pre-Cap conversion history of extraction in accordance with the rules set out in the Barwon-Darling Unregulated River – concessional conversion principles (PDF 945 KB).
The concessional conversion rules complement the Barwon-Darling Unregulated River water transfer rules, which on its own would not be sufficient to enable licence holders to reinstate their pre-Cap conversion history of extraction. These rules will have effect until the Water Sharing Plan for the Barwon-Darling Unregulated and Alluvial Water Sources commences. More information on the draft plan.
Concessional conversions will be permitted under the water sharing plan for the first year of the plan. For information on how to apply for a concessional conversion under the Water Management Act 2000, go to Water licensing > Dealings and trade > Change access licence.
Applications for concessional conversions under the Water Act 1912 must be lodged with the NSW Office of Water for assessment.
For more information, go to Barwon-Darling Unregulated Rivers - concessional conversions: Frequently asked questions (PDF 57 KB)