Looking after our waterways

Water plans and permits

Building a structure or conducting activities in or near a waterway? Protecting Adelaide’s waterways is everyone’s responsibility – that’s why some things require a permit. Find out whether you need one and how to apply.

Green Adelaide regulates water resources in the Adelaide metropolitan area.

This includes overseeing the implementation of the new Adelaide Plains Water Allocation Plan. This plan details the rules around licensing, allocation and management of groundwater and wells.

We also manage activities that may impact local watercourses in metropolitan Adelaide through issuing Water Affecting Activity Permits as per the Water-Affecting Activities Control Policy (PDF | 1 MB).

Our responsibility to these 2 tasks forms part of the Landscape Act SA 2019.

What is a Water Affecting Activity Permit?

Some activities can have adverse impacts on the health and condition of Adelaide’s waterways.

If you are planning to build a structure or carry out an activity that may impact on a surface water resource or a watercourse this is what we call a water affecting activity and you may need to apply for a Water Affecting Activity Permit.

Water affecting activities include:

  • constructing or enlarging dams or structures to collect or divert water
  • building structures in, obstructing, or depositing solid materials in a watercourse, lake or floodplain e.g. erosion control, construction of water crossings or dumping material
  • excavating material from a watercourse, lake or floodplain e.g. excavating or cleaning soaks, waterholes and on-stream dams
  • destroying vegetation in a watercourse, lake or floodplain e.g. removal of reeds
  • draining or discharging water or brine into a watercourse or lake e.g. desalination waste, stormwater including urban discharge, drainage and salinity control
  • drilling, deepening and back filling wells, bores and groundwater access trenches
  • using effluent or water imported to an area for commercial activities such as irrigation.

Before completing a water permit application, read the Water-Affecting Activities Control Policy (PDF | 924 KB) to find out the rules that apply in your area.

Alternatively, explore the frequently asked questions (FAQs).

Current Recommended Practices

We recently developed Current Recommended Practices (CRPs) for some common Water Affecting Activities including Removing Vegetation from Waterways (PDF | 747 KB) and Constructing Ford Crossings over Waterways (PDF | 1 MB).

If the activity you want to undertake is covered by the scope of a CRP, you are not required to apply for a Water Affecting Activity permit. If it is outside of the scope of a CRP, a permit will be required.

Supporting resources

Browse our resources below to learn more about looking after waterways, erosion management and desilting dams.

Apply for a Water Affecting Activity Permit

To apply for a permit, follow these 3 steps:

  1. There are 2 application form options when applying for a permit. Download your most appropriate one:
    Water storage and diversion application form (Word | 114 KB) (for the construction or modification of dams)
    Other works application form (Word | 100 KB) (for other types of water activities).
  2. Complete the appropriate form and then email it to dew.greenadelaide@sa.gov.au, or post it to the Green Adelaide Landscape Board, GPO Box 1047, Adelaide SA 5001.
  3. Pay the permit application fee of $65 at the time of submitting your application form. This can be paid via cheque or EFT. The payment details are provided in the relevant application form.

Timeframe for assessment

It is recommended that you apply for a permit at least 2 months before you intend to start the activity.

It will take a maximum of 40 business days for your permit application assessment.

Assessment must-knows

  • All permit applicants will be notified in writing of the outcome of their application.
  • Additional supporting information or a site visit may be requested throughout the assessment.
  • Successful applicants may be required to undertake additional actions in line with the conditions of an approved permit.
  • Successful applicants may require a site visit upon completion of works to ensure permit conditions have been met.
  • If your permit application is not approved or you disagree with any of the permit conditions, you are welcome to appeal to the Environment, Resources and Development Court within 6 weeks of the decision.

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