Do I need a licence for building a dam?

Rural landholders in NSW are entitled to build and maintain dams up to a certain size without a licence. Those not requiring any licence include:

  • harvestable right dams (i.e. small dams to collect rainfall runoff)
  • dams built before 1999 used only for stock and domestic purposes
  • dams up to one megalitre on small properties where the property was approved for subdivision before 1 January 1999.

Any other types of dams may require a licence. The type of licence required depends on whether the water comes from a source governed by a water-sharing plan. Water-sharing plans have rules for sharing water between environmental needs and the users.

The Department of Primary Industries Water (DPI Water) issues licences and has a range of useful information about building dams in NSW.

Find out more about licences

Find out more about dams


For more information about dams and water licences, contact Department of Primary Industries Water (DPI Water).
By phone: 1800 353 104
By email: