Water affecting activities

Managing water resources

Water resources in the Adelaide and the Mount Lofty Ranges are precious and need to be managed sustainably. This includes watercourses, lakes, dams, floodplains, groundwater, springs, wetlands, waterholes and catchment landscapes.

Some activities in a watercourse or floodplain can have adverse impacts on the health and condition of water resources and the ecosystems that depend on them, as well as on other water users. These are called water affecting activities and include:

  • the construction or enlargement of dams or structures to collect or divert water
  • building of structures, obstructing or depositing solid materials in a watercourse, lake or floodplain (e.g. erosion control, construction of water crossings or dumping material)
  • excavating material from a watercourse, lake or floodplain (e.g. excavating or cleaning soaks, waterholes and on-stream dams)
  • destroying vegetation in a watercourse, lake or floodplain (e.g. removal of reeds)
  • draining or discharging water or brine into a watercourse or lake (e.g. desalination waste, stormwater including urban discharge, drainage and salinity control)
  • drilling, deepening and back filling wells, bores and groundwater access trenches
  • the use of effluent or water imported to an area for commercial activities, e.g. irrigation.

Cutting red tape

Permit exemptions exist for some water affecting activities. These exemptions are listed in Table 10 of Volume 2 of the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Plan. Current recommended practices are being developed for these activities to help cut through red tape.

You may not have to apply for a permit if your proposed activity is detailed below.

Current recommended practice:

Best practice operating procedures for local government

Best practice operating procedures have been developed with local government. These procedures reduce red tape whilst helping councils understand their obligations and options under the Natural Resources Management Act 2004 when undertaking works in a watercourse.

Want to de-silt your on-stream dam?

You no longer need to apply for a permit, as long as you meet the criteria outlined in Table 10 of volume 2 of the NRM plan . This includes making sure that when you desilt the dam you do not increase its size and dispose of the silt responsibly so it does not re-enter the watercourse.

If you have any queries, please contact the Policy Officer Water Permits on (08) 8273 9100.

Permits for water affecting activities

Water affecting activities need to be managed carefully and may require a permit. You need to apply for your permit at least two months before you intend to undertake the activity. Please note that the authorisation required for dams may be either a water affecting activities permit or a development authorisation.

  • Water affecting activities permit is required for dam construction, enlargement or modifications to a volume of 5000 kilolitres or less, and/or with walls of 3 metres or less above the natural ground surface.
  • Local council development approval is required for dam construction, enlargement or modifications of a volume greater than 5000 kilolitres, AND/OR with walls greater than 3 metres above the natural ground surface OR if the property is located within the Hills Face Zone.

New dams in the Western Mount Lofty Ranges

Please note, if your property is located in the Western Mount Lofty Ranges you may not be able to construct a new dam until the ‘Reservation of excess water’ is removed.

If you have any queries, please contact the Policy Officer Water Permits on (08) 8271 9100.

Applying for a water affecting activities permit

The process of applying for a water affecting activities permit is detailed in the guide to applying for a water affecting activities permit

The first step is to complete and lodge the relevant application form:

You may at this time also be required to provide additional supporting information, and receive a visit from a natural resources officer to assist with assessing your application against the water affecting activities assessment principles. You can find these principles on page 41. If in doubt about what is required applicants are encouraged to contact the Eastwood office to talk to the Policy Officer Water Permits.

You will be notified in writing regarding your application, and you may be required to undertake additional actions in accordance with the conditions of an approved permit. If your permit application is not approved, or you disagree with any of the permit conditions, you may appeal to the Environment, Resources and Development Court within six weeks of the decision. Upon completion of works a natural resources officer may conduct a further site visit to ensure permit conditions have been met.

Fact sheets

Related links

More information

  • Policy Officer Water Permits
    (08) 8273 9100
Natural Resources Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges