Newcastle lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes has raised the prospect of sand for Stockton beach having to come from Commonwealth government waters, possibly slowing down a solution for the suburb's erosion woes.
Speaking at a council meeting on Tuesday, Cr Nelmes said finding a solution could require a "unified and also detailed response from all three levels of government, depending on where sand is found offshore".
"It could be in federal waters, and it could actually require significant involvement of the federal government," she said.
"I'm hoping that at this stage we do find a viable sand source that is in NSW government waters, because that would probably be easier and will expedite the process, but, if that is the case, that is the case."
The federal government controls waters beyond three nautical miles of the coast.
Councillors adopted on Tuesday a draft coastal management program (CMP) for Stockton which it hopes will pave the wave for mass sand nourishment of the beach.
Newcastle council is part of a state government interdepartmental taskforce looking at ways of sourcing and funding sand sources.
The taskforce met this month.
The CMP recommends spending $18.68 million over five years on seawalls, sand nourishment from onshore sources and other measures to mitigate damage.