Key points to remember about water dealings
  • A dealing will be dealt with according to the provisions of the Water Management Act 2000 and in particular:
    • the water management principles of the Act;
    • the access licence dealing principles of the Act;
    • any access licence dealing principles established by the Minister; and
    • access licence dealing rules established by any relevant water sharing plan.

  • The NSW Legislation website at provides copies of the Act and regulations under the Act including the Access Licence Dealing Principles Order 2004 and water sharing plans.

  • The trading of water licences out of, into and within water sources can be a mechanism for both environmental and economic improvements. The Act, together with the access licence dealing principles and the access licence dealing rules established by a water sharing plan provide for when trading is allowed or restricted in certain parts. Trading between regulated, unregulated and groundwater sources is not permitted. Trading between some unregulated and groundwater sources may be permitted.

    In some cases, a dealing application form must be accompanied by the water access licence certificate (WAL Certificate) before any transactions or dealings can be undertaken.

  • A water access licence must nominate a work supply work approval to be effective.

    Generally, most dealings will take effect when registered in the Water Access Licence Register.

  • A derivative is a type of financial service and is regulated under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth). An arrangement entered into for a dealing may be a derivative. It will depend on the terms of the arrangement and whether water trading exemptions apply under the Corporations Laws Amendment (2014 Measures No. 1) Regulation 2014. You are encouraged to seek independent legal advice when entering into arrangements for a dealing. For more information on derivatives go to ASIC (Australian Securities and Investments Commission).



When purchasing or selling a water access licence it is important you check:

Note: The new holder of a water access licence will be liable for any outstanding water charges. This should be taken into account in the settlement.

Fees apply for water access licence searches and water allocation account statements.

Contracts of sale and purchase

Contracts are recommended for transfers of a licence, assignment (sale) of share component or a term transfer. Contracts are also advisable for assignments of a water allocation.

If you are using an intermediary such as a water broker, you may want to confirm they have appropriate trust and fiduciary arrangements.

Submitting an application

All holders of the water access licence or, in the case of a transfer of a holding, all co-holders in that holding, must authorise the application.

You do not need consent from the Office of Water to transfer the holder or for term transfer of a water access licence. These dealings only require registration with NSW Land and Property Information on the water access licence register once the sale or term transfer has been settled.

Applications for a water allocation assignment (regulated rivers and major inland groundwater systems) must be lodged with State Water.

Ensure the relevant application form is fully completed and submit it, with your application fee. A guide to how to complete each application is included with the Office of Water forms.

How is the application processed and assessed?

For applications lodged with the Office of Water, an application will be registered on the Office of Water's database if it is complete. Processing of the application will be delayed if further information is required. If this information is not received within the requested time, the Office of Water may reject the application. The fee will be refunded in this event. An application may also be rejected if the licence is currently suspended.

Applications will be assessed to ensure they are consistent with the provisions of the Water Management Act 2000, the access licence Dealing Principles, and the water sharing plan access licence Dealing Rules. The  Office of Water will provide you with a Notice of Determination once processing is complete. If consent is granted, the Office of Water will also provide you with the Notification Form for lodgement with Land and Property Information.

Registration of general water dealings

The consent of all holders of registered security interests in the licence (eg financial institutions with a mortgage over the licence) or, in the case of a transfer of a holding, all holders of security interests registered against that holding, must be provided to Land and Property Information (LPI) before a general water dealing can be registered.

To register a term transfer relating to just a holding in the licence (rather than the whole licence), only the consent of the co-holders and registered security interests in that particular holding is required.

In the case of transfers and term transfers, it is the responsibility of the transferee (buyer) to register the dealing with LPI.

In the case of all other general water dealings, it is the responsibility of the holder to register the dealing with LPI. In the case of assignments of share component, it will be the holder of the water access licence to be reduced.

For dealings requiring NSW Office of Water consent

For dealings not requiring NSW Office of Water consent

Water access licence dealings only become legally effective from the date they are registered on the WAL Register.

After a general water dealing is registered, LPI will issue the next edition of the certificate or, in the case of subdivisions, consolidations and change in category, a new water access licence certificate. As noted above, LPI charges fees for registering dealings and issuing the new or updated water access certificate.

Registration of water allocation assignments

Water allocation assignment dealings take effect from the time the water allocation accounts of the buyer and seller are adjusted.