Catchments and Coasts


Denise Anderson
Senior Policy Officer - Environment 

Phone: 02 9242 4056

Councils throughout NSW face a variety of ongoing challenges when it comes to managing their coastlines, estuaries and floodplains.

Local Government NSW (LGNSW) provides support on natural water management issues, including advocacy and submissions on important coastal management and floodplain management reforms.

The NSW Government also offers Coast & Estuary Management and Floodplain Management programs to assist councils in managing coastal and floodplain areas. Both programs provide financial assistance to help councils implement priority planning and management actions in their local areas. Learn more >>

Coastal reforms

Councils along the NSW coast are faced with unique water management challenges, including:

  • A diversity of habitats and environments
  • High population densities and growth rates
  • High levels of visitation and tourism (often seasonal)
  • Existing and potential risks such as inundation, erosion and land instability
  • The need to balance private and public amenity
  • The provision of suitable infrastructure
  • The impacts of an uncertain climate future, including extreme storm events and sea level rises

The NSW Government’s Stage 2 Coastal Reforms framework includes:

  • The Coastal Management Act 2016 that integrates coastal management and planning requirements into council land use planning responsibilities under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act), plus community and strategic planning responsibilities under the Local Government Act 1993.
  • The Coastal Management State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) that defines four coastal management areas through detailed mapping and assessment criteria for determining development in these areas.
  • A new Coastal Management Manual providing guidance to councils in developing a Coastal Management Program and addressing the requirements of the Coastal Management Act.

More information on the Coastal Management Framework is available on the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment website.

Floodplain management

Flooding costs the NSW economy approximately $250 million each year, and can have devastating social, economic and environmental impact. However, flooding also plays a vital ecological role in revitalising priority environmental assets.

Local government in NSW has the primary responsibility for controlling the development of flood-prone land. However, the NSW Government and the State Emergency Service (SES) also have important roles to play in managing the flood risk across the state. Learn more >>