Water Management

The responsibility for regulating water management largely falls to the States. However, the Australian Government has assumed an increasingly active role in this area

View current opportunities to have your say about water management now

There are opportunities to comment at strategic planning, regulatory development, and monitoring and enforcement stages. For more information about water management, see our Fact Sheet on water management.

Responding to government proposals

The national, State and local governments regularly invite input from the community on proposed changes to environmental laws. 

Monitoring and enforcement

Both governments and proponents have responsibility for monitoring the impacts of activities on native plants and animals. You can also monitor the impacts of activities on the environment, such as water and air quality.

Before reporting suspected breaches of environmental laws you will require evidence. It is also important to remember that the law contains certain exceptions and defences to offences. The most common defence is that a person has a permit or licence to take the action which would otherwise be an offence, such as a licence to extract water. If you are unsure whether an action is an offence or not, contact the EDO NSW Environmental Law Line.

You should report any suspected breaches of the offences that are set out below to the Australian Environment Department for offences relating to national laws, or the NSW DPI - Water.

National and State enforcement authorities can issue stop work notices in many cases where unauthorised activities are occurring that threaten harm to protected species or areas.

  • Report breaches of water management legislation to the NSW DPI - Water. Breaches include:
    • Water theft.
    • Harming a water source.
  • Report a suspected breach of a water licence to the NSW DPI - Water. Examples of breaches include:
    • Taking water from a water source without a licence.
    • Carrying out works on a water source without a licence.
    • Failing to comply with the conditions of a water access licence.
    • Taking an action that is likely to have a significant impact on a Ramsar wetland.
    • Taking an action that is likely to have a significant impact on a nationally listed migratory species.
    • Taking an action that is likely to have a significant impact on a place that is listed on the World, Commonwealth, or National heritage lists.
    • Taking an action that will have a significant impact on a nationally listed migratory species.
  • Report harm of a State protected species to the Environment Line on 131 555. Examples of illegal activity include:
  • Report pollution incidents to the Environment Line on 131 555. If you are concerned about water pollution, you should also contact the individual or company to request an explanation and ask them to fix the problem.

Under certain environmental laws, any person has the right to bring proceedings in a Court to remedy or restrain a breach. In NSW, this is mainly to the Land and Environment Court. For breaches of national environmental law, it is the Federal Court. See How can I have my say? for more information. You should contact the EDO NSW Environmental Law Line to request some initial legal advice if you would like to take this step.

Shaping environmental laws

Many environmental laws merely set out the framework for protecting the environment and rely on community involvement for proper protection. You can proactively seek to improve environmental laws through these processes.

  • Join the NSW Boards and Committees register, which is a list of people interested in serving on NSW Government boards and committees, such as reserve trusts for the protection of certain areas of environmental and heritage significance.

General

The national, State and local governments provide continuing opportunities to be involved in the laws designed to protect the environment.