Managing floodplains

We support councils and communities to help reduce flood risk.

Heavy rainfall can lead to flooding when water levels rise and inundate nearby land. This is a natural process. 

Flooding is a serious problem in towns and cities, where it can have significant consequences for individuals and the community. These include damage to property and infrastructure, economic hardship, and trauma and emotional distress. 

Flooding in urban and rural NSW costs our economy about $200 million each year, and the human impact is even greater.

Your council’s role

Managing flood risk is everyone’s responsibility. Communities need to be prepared for flooding, understand how to respond to flood threats and recover from the impacts of floods. We can reduce the impacts of floods by taking action before they occur.

Your local council has two key responsibilities:

  • Local councils carry out studies to understand flood risk. They keep the community informed about flooding, support emergency management planning, and examine options to manage flood risk.
  • Local councils take flooding into account when controlling the development of flood-prone land, and in carrying out management actions including the investigation, design, construction, operation and maintenance of flood mitigation works.     

Our role

The NSW Government, through the Department of Planning and Environment and the State Emergency Service (SES), plays an important role in managing flood risk before, during and after floods, across the state.

The Department has experienced staff working across the state to fulfil our key roles in this area.

Building the resilience of local communities

We work with local councils to enable them to better understand and manage the risks and the costs of flooding, and to consider flood risk in their decision making. This includes supporting the SES to fulfill its role as the state's flood combat agency.

Developing policies and guidelines

We prepare policies and guidelines to help councils manage flood risk. This includes the 2005 Floodplain Development Manual, the NSW Government’s Flood Prone Land Policy (see the Floodplain Development Manual), and associated floodplain risk management guidelines and tools. We work with a range of Australian, state and local government agencies and the floodplain risk management industry to develop this material and policy.

Managing flood-prone land in coastal and inland NSW

We work with local government to better manage flood-prone land in coastal areas and urban communities in inland NSW. We provide funding and technical assistance to prepare and implement floodplain risk management plans through the NSW Government’s Floodplain Management Program.

Supporting rural floodplain planning

We support DPI Water to create better processes to manage rural floodplains.

Managing the collection of water level data

We manage the water level data collection at over 500 sites with Manly Hydraulics Laboratory. This data helps with issuing flood forecasts and warnings to NSW communities and with local flood risk assessments. 

Apply for a floodplain management program grant