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Water licensing

You need a water access licence to take water from rivers, lakes and aquifers in NSW. It is an offence to take water from a water source without a water access licence. Water theft is a serious crime.

Water access licences

WaterNSW is responsible for water access licences and associated approvals required by:

  • rural landholders
  • rural industries
  • developments which are not state significant development or state significant infrastructure.

Licences for major water users

The Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) licences major water users including:

  • government agencies, including other NSW government agencies, local councils and the Commonwealth
  • state owned corporations
  • major water utilities, water supply authorities, and local water utilities
  • licensed network operators under the Water Industry Competition Act 2006
  • mining companies
  • irrigation corporations
  • Aboriginal communities and businesses
  • floodplain harvesting
  • major developments (state significant developments and state significant infrastructure)
  • schools and hospitals.

How to help stop illegal water activities

While most water users follow the rules and meet the legal requirements defined in NSW water laws, some people carry out illegal water activities. Sometimes these alleged breaches of water law are deliberate and sometimes they happen out of ignorance of the law.

Water theft and harming a water source can threaten water supplies for legitimate water users and harm the environment. These are serious crimes.

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