Landholders in most rural areas are allowed to collect a proportion of the rainfall runoff on their property and store it in one or more dams up to a certain size. This is known as a 'harvestable right'. Harvestable right water is generally intended for essential stock and household use but can be used for any purpose.
All rural landholders in NSW are able to maintain or build farm dams. There are several categories of farm dams that do not require a licence:
- Harvestable right dams
- Dams built before 1999 used only for stock and domestic purposes
- Dams up to one megalitre on small properties.
Harvestable right dams
Rural landholders in NSW can build farm dams on minor streams that capture up to 10 per cent of the average regional rainfall run-off for their property without requiring a licence in the Central and Eastern Divisions, and up to 100 per cent in the Western Division, and takes into account local evaporation rates and rainfall periods.
Maximum harvestable right dam capacity is the total dam capacity allowed under the harvestable right for your property. The Harvestable Rights Orders are published on the NSW Government Gazette 40 dated 31 March 2006 (pages 1628 to 1631)
For more information on harvestable right dams view the factsheets below:
Different requirements apply to dams in the Western Division. For more information contact a licensing officer.
Maximum harvestable right calculator
To calculate your maximum harvestable right dam capacity go to the new improved calculator. Note the limitations to the calculator and ensure you keep a record of your calculations.
Dams built before 1999 used only for stock and domestic purposes
Farm dams (larger than the harvestable right capacity) built before 1999, when the harvestable right was introduced, do not require a licence provided they are only used for stock and domestic purposes. However, these dams are included when assessing your right to build additional harvestable right dams.
Dams up to one megalitre on small properties
Licences are not required for farm dams with a volume of up to one megalitre on small properties where the maximum harvestable right dam capacity is less than one megalitre and the property was approved for subdivision before 1 January 1999 (where the dam was within the harvestable right capacity before the subdivision).
No further harvestable right dams may be constructed. Any new dams above this allowance must be licensed. For more information see About licences.