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Constructing and modifying levee banks
Levees play an important role in floodplain management. They also have the potential to impact on neighbouring properties, the community and the catchment as a whole.
Because of this, construction or modification of levees is regulated by state planning laws. The level of assessment required depends on the potential impacts of the levee.
Before building a levee, consider whether there are other options available. There may be alternatives such as changing the land use, relocating development to avoid the flood-prone area, raising building heights or making them flood resistant.
Which works need to be assessed?
The requirements cover any artificial embankment or structure that prevents or reduces the flow of overland flow water onto or from land, including levee-related infrastructure (e.g. channels, drains, outfalls and pipes). The requirements apply to construction of new levees and modifications of existing levees, including:
- raising or lowering the height of the levee
- extending the length of the levee
- any other modification that influences the flow of water.
Requirements do not apply to the following:
- prescribed farming activities (e.g. cultivating, laser levelling, contouring, clearing or replanting vegetation)
- irrigation infrastructure that is not levee-related
- fill used for gardens or landscaping (up to a certain volume)
- structures regulated under other Acts, including roads, railways and water storages
- coastal infrastructure, such as groynes, used to protect life or property from the threat of coastal hazards.
If you are not certain whether the structure you wish to build will be classed as a levee, check with your local council.
How a levee is assessed depends on its level of impact.
No off-property impact
Off-property impact and affected population is less than 3
Assessable development – code
Off-property impact and affected population is 3 or more
Assessable development – impact
Local government with Queensland Government as referral agency
Category 1 levees
A levee is a category 1 levee if it does not cause any impacts beyond the boundary of the property on which the levee is located. Off-property impacts are measured in terms of the changes to the flow path, flow velocity, flooded area or flood height.
Constructing a new or modifying an existing category 1 levee is considered 'accepted development' according the Planning Act 2016. You do not need an application or approval to build a category 1 levee but it must comply with the requirements of the following:
- Self-assessable code for construction or modification of levees (PDF, 145KB)
- Guidelines for construction or modification of category 1 levees (PDF, 1MB)
You must notify the local government within 10 business days of completing the category 1 levee works as stated in the code.
Category 2 and 3 levees
If your proposed levee has off-property impacts, you will need to ensure:
- any off-property impacts are minimised and acceptable
- the levee is a safe and stable structure
- community safety is ensured in the event a category 3 levee fails or overtops.
You will need to apply for a development approval, which will be assessed by your local council. You will generally need to conduct a hydraulic study and use a suitably qualified person to ensure your application is compliant.
For more information refer to:
- Code for assessment of development for construction or modification of particular levees – contained in Schedule 10 of the Water Regulation 2016
- Guidelines for the construction and modification of category 2 and 3 levees (PDF, 841KB).
Additional requirements for Category 3 levees
Applications for category 3 levees also need to meet the requirements of State code 19: Category 3 levees (PDF, 196KB).
Application forms are available from the Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning. You will need to use DA Form 1 (Development Application).
If you need more information, contact your local council, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Read about state planning laws.
- Find out more about the assessment of water-related development works.
- Read the report on the implementation of the current levee regulatory framework.
- Last reviewed: 15 Aug 2017
- Last updated: 9 Dec 2020