Farm Dams

What is a farm dam?

A farm dam is a privately owned dam constructed for the purpose of storing water, regardless of its use.

Click here to view our Constructing a Farm Dam brochure.

Do I need a licence?

All dams that are used for irrigation or commercial purposes require a take and use Licence, whether the dam is on a waterway or in the general catchment. You will need a Licence for the period of time that you wish to take and use water out of the dam. 

There is an application fee for a Licence to take and use water if the dam is to be used for irrigation or commercial purposes.

There will also be an application fee for a Licence to construct a dam on a waterway or if it is a large dam that requires conditions on the Licence concerning dam safety.  

Click here for fees and charges.

What is a potentially hazardous dam?

A potentially hazardous dam is any dam on a waterway or a dam as described under Section 67 (1A) of the Water Act 1989 as follows:

  • The dam has a wall that is 5 metres or more high above ground level at the downstream end of the dam and a capacity of 50 megalitres or more; or
  • The dam has a wall that is 10 metres or more high above ground level at the downstream end of the dam and a capacity of 20 megalitres or more; or
  • The dam has a wall that is 15 metres or more high above ground level at the downstream end of the dam, regardless of the capacity; or
  • The dam belongs to a prescribed class of dams; or
  • Your existing licence document will indicate if your dam is on or off a waterway.

For more information, download our fact sheet on Managing a Potentially Hazardous Dam.

How do I know if a dam is on a waterway?

The proposed dam site needs to be inspected by us to complete a waterway determination. It is advisable that you contact us prior to any construction work commencing. 

If I want to build a dam for irrigation or commercial use - what must I do?

If you want to build a dam for irrigation or commercial use you must obtain a Licence to use water from the dam prior to construction. Depending on the location and size of the dam, you may also need a Licence to construct and operate the dam.  

What rules apply to large dams?

Operating Licenses are now required for large dams to ensure that dam owners take proper precautions to protect life and property. If you are proposing to build a large dam you must obtain an operating Licence prior to commencement. There will be conditions on the Licence relating to the dam safety that will vary depending on the size, location and potential hazard of the dam.  Contact us for more information.  

Can I transfer my Licence?

You are able to transfer your Licence, however transfers are subject to approval and must be within the trading rules.   

What should I do if I am buying a property with a Dam on it?

If you are buying a property that has a dam, it is recommended that you check with your local Licensing Authority to find out what Licenses and requirements are related to the property.

More information