Water affecting activities

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

Some activities 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, e.g. dam, wall or other structure, weir, channelling a watercourse, piping from a watercourse, diversion channel.
  • The erection, construction or placement of any building or other structure in a watercourse or lake or on the floodplain of a watercourse. e.g. pump house, culvert, wetland management works, a crossing point or bridge.
  • Draining or discharging water directly or indirectly into a watercourse or lake, e.g. pipes, culverts, side entry pits and stormwater.
  • Depositing or placing an object or solid material in a watercourse or lake, e.g. erosion control, structures, rip-rap rocks, filling in a watercourse, dumping rubbish in a watercourse, culverts and water crossings.
  • Obstructing a watercourse or lake in any other manner, e.g. planting vegetation, erosion control works.
  • Depositing or placing an object or solid material on the floodplain of a watercourse, or near the bank or shore of a lake, to control flooding from the watercourse or lake, e.g. levees.
  • Destroying vegetation growing in a watercourse or lake, or growing on the floodplain of a watercourse, e.g. removal or destruction of trees, shrubs, reeds and/or grasses.
  • Excavating or removing rock, sand or soil from a watercourse or lake or the floodplain of a watercourse or an area near to the banks of a lake, so as to damage, or create the likelihood of damage to, the banks of the lake, e.g. sand mining, desilting wetlands, swamps or springs.

Water affecting activities permits

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. Permits are usually valid for one year from the date of issue.

Please note that some activities may require other approvals:

  • The clearance of common reeds and bulrushes may require a water affecting activities permit or a Native Vegetation Council authorisation. Find out which approval you need.
  • Some dams may require development approval from your local council. Find out which approval your dam needs.
  • Wells, imported water, using effluent and commercial forestry require the approval of the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation. Find application forms for these activities.
  • Private water management works require the approval of the South Eastern Water Conservation and Drainage Board. An application form can be requested by calling 08 8733 3533.

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.

Step 1. To apply for a water affecting activities permit, the first step is to complete the relevant application form. Hard copies of the forms can be requested by contacting us. All applications require clear and detailed information, including a Certificate of title, any plans and photographs of the proposed activity and site location, GPS coordinates if available, and consultants or engineering reports where applicable.

Step 2. Permit application forms must then be lodged with the prescribed fee as per the instructions on the form.

Step 3. Permit applications will be assessed against the principles and objectives outlines in the Regional Natural Resources Management Plan and relevant Water Allocation Plan. You may be required to provide additional supporting information and receive a visit from a natural resources officer to assist with assessing your application.

Step 4. 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.

Step 5. Upon completion of works you must notify us, and a natural resources officer may conduct a further site visit to ensure permit conditions have been met.

Further information

Guidelines for culverts fact sheet