A dam is a man-made structure designed to hold and store water for private use.

There are rules and regulations that need to be followed for the development, construction or modification of a dam on a property so as to ensure that water is shared equitably between water users and the environment. Dam development must be managed in a way that balances existing needs with those for new development.

Construction of a dam or making changes to an existing dam may require the application for a permit through the local natural resources management board. Dam construction in South Australia requires approval under either the Natural Resources Management Act or the Development Act.

If the dam is smaller than 5ML and has a wall height less than 3 metres, you will need to apply for a permit for a Water Affecting Activity (WAA) from the local Natural Resources Management Board.

If the dam is bigger than 5ML, or has a wall height greater than 3 metres, or if your dam is located in the Hills Face Zone Development Approval is required.

The specific provisions from Schedule 3 of the Development Regulations are provided below in which A1 – Application of Schedule 3 states:

The following acts or activities are excluded from the definition of development (other than in respect of a State heritage place, or as otherwise indicated below).

The excavation or filling (or excavation and filling) of land for the purposes of a dam,
other than—
(a) where a levee or mound with a finished height greater than 3 metres above the natural surface of the ground is to be formed; or
(b) where a retaining wall which retains a difference in ground levels exceeding 1 metre is to be used or formed; or
(c) where the dam is in the Hills Face Zone, in a Watercourse Zone, Flood Zone or Flood Plain delineated by the relevant Development Plan, or in any other zone or area shown as being subject to flooding or inundation in the relevant Development Plan; or
(d) where the dam is to have a capacity exceeding 5 megalitres.

For further information on dam development the Government of South Australia, Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board provides a good resource: