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Water affecting activities

Water resources in the region are precious and need to be managed sustainably. These include watercourses, lakes, dams, floodplains, groundwater, springs, wetlands, waterholes and catchment landscapes. Some activities can have adverse impacts on the health and condition of water resources and the ecosystems that depend on them, as well as on other water users.

The Hills and Fleurieu Landscape Board specifically manages surface water resources, including activities in and around watercourses and dams.

These activities include:

  • Water diversion and storage - erection, construction, modification, enlargement, or removal of a dam, wall or other structure (dam, wall or other structure; piping a watercourse; channelling a watercourse; stormwater harvesting/treatment; wetland)
  • Building a structure in a watercourse, lake or floodplain (buildings or structures <10m2; pump house; horse shelter; culvert; crossing point or bridge; fencing)
  • Drainage or discharge of water into a watercourse or lake (pre-excavation works; stormwater from buildings; pipes; culverts; side entry pits)
  • Depositing objects or solid material in a watercourse, lake or floodplain (island in dam in a watercourse; ripraps; rocks; tyres; snags; filling a watercourse; levee banks)
  • Obstructing a watercourse (planting vegetation)
  • Excavation or removal of rock, sand or soil from a watercourse, lake or floodplain (desilting dam in a watercourse; desilting wetlands, swamps and springs; realignment or alteration of a watercourse; groundwater access trench (gat) construction)
  • Destroying vegetation growing in a watercourse or lake, or growing on the floodplain of a watercourse (removal or destruction of trees, shrubs, grasses)

Our Hills and Fleurieu Water Affecting Activities Control Policy sets out the principles for managing these water affecting activities.

Other water affecting activities relating to the use of imported water and effluent, well construction and repair, draining or discharging water into a well and commercial forestry are managed by the Department of Environment and Water (DEW). For more information visit

Landholders, property managers, local governments, industry and organisations must lodge permit applications to the relevant authority.

Information on dams within the Western and Eastern Mount Lofty Ranges

Water is a precious shared resource so new dam development (construction or enlargement) must be carefully managed to ensure a balance is maintained between dam owners, existing water users, and water-dependent ecosystems. Due to the high number of existing dams and potential impacts to sensitive water-dependent ecosystems, authorisation for new or enlarged dams are generally not approved at this point in time. Please refer to our dams fact sheet for further information or alternatively please contact our Water Resources Team.

Permit applications

Water affecting activities need to be managed carefully, and may require a permit. You need to apply for your permit at least two months before you intend to undertake the activity.

  • Water affecting activity permit application form for all other works (i.e. buildings or structures <10m2; pump house; bridge; fencing; stormwater from buildings; side entry pits; island in dam; rocks, filling a watercourse; levee banks; planting vegetation, realignment or alteration of a watercourse; and removal of trees, shrubs, grasses; excavations)

Current recommended practices

The Board has endorsed the following recommended practices regarding removing vegetation, and controlling watercourse sediment within bush-fire affected areas:

Local government and other statutory agencies' best practice operating procedures

We've developed best practice operating procedures for granting exemptions for local government and other statutory authorities for particular water affecting activities that would otherwise require a permit. These procedures help local government and other statutory authorities understand their obligations and options when undertaking works in a watercourse.

Local government and other statutory authorities without endorsed procedures can contact our water team to discuss adopting one.


Water affecting activities - Frequently Asked Questions

Fact sheets

Dams in the Hills and Fleurieu region Feb 2022

Ford crossing - best practice guidelines for construction Feb 2022

Culverts - best practice guidelines for construction Feb 2022

Image gallery

More information

Contact the Hills and Fleurieu Landscape Board

8391 7500