Surface Water Licence / Permit - New South Wales

Service summary

You may require this licence or permit if you intend to construct or use a work to take water from a river, lake or other water source.

Every owner or occupier of a landholding has basic landholder rights. These rights allow you to take water from a water source, and to construct certain water supply works, for the purposes of domestic consumption and stock watering. If you intend to take water for any other purpose the approval of the Agency is required.

This licence or permit is required for certain works used for the purpose of:

  • Water conservation;
  • Irrigation;
  • Water supply;
  • Drainage; or
  • Changing the course of a river.

This applies to:

  • Taking water from a stream or river via a pump or other work;
  • Capturing surface water from rainfall run off in a farm dam; and
  • Capturing river water in a dam.

Embargo orders apply in some areas. Where an embargo order applies, an application cannot be lodged unless it fits within one of the exemptions specified in the order or in this Act. In some areas you may be able to purchase a licence from an existing licence holder.

This licence only applies to water sources (rivers, lakes and groundwater aquifers) in NSW where water sharing plans have not commenced. To find out whether a water source is in a water sharing plan please consult the Contact Officer.

Service type


A licence defines the need to obtain recognition / certification and registration to undertake a certain business activity.

Eligibility requirements

Please consult the Contact Officer for more information regarding eligibility requirements.



Fees are listed on the attached document.

Other resources

Comply Fees under the Water Act 1912 Opens in a new browser window

Administering agency

Department of Industry
NSW Department of Primary Industries
NSW Office of Water

Act(s) name

Water Act 1912 (New South Wales)

Regulation(s) name

Water (Part 2 - General) Regulation 1997 (New South Wales)

Contact details

General Enquiries, Water Licensing
Department of Industry
NSW Department of Primary Industries
NSW Office of Water

Operating address:
Level 10,
Macquarie Tower
New South Wales 2124
Mailing address:
Locked Bag 5123
New South Wales 2124


02 8281 7777


1800 353 104


02 8281 7799

Supporting information


The information contained on the Australian Business Licence and Information Service (ABLIS) web site, or via packages or other sources is intended for general guidance only.

To the full extent permitted by law, the Federal, State, Territory and Local Governments make no representations or warranties (expressed or implied) in relation to the information, including its accuracy, currency or completeness.

The business information provided does not constitute professional or legal advice, nor is the use of any third party resource an endorsement of the information contained, the associated organisation, product or service. It is recommended that you obtain appropriate professional and /or independent legal advice to ensure that the material provided here is relevant to your particular circumstances.

To the full extent permitted by law the Federal, State, Territory and Local Governments, their employees and agents do not accept any liability for any reason, including without limitation, liability in negligence, to any person for the general information which is provided herein, or in respect of anything, including the consequences of anything done, or not done, by any such person in whole or partial reliance upon the information.