Apply for a new water licence or permit

Information about applying for a new water licence or permit under the Rights in Water and Irrigation Act 1914.
Last updated:

This information only applies to the processes and approvals under the Rights in Water and Irrigation Act 1914.

Other legislation can apply to the activity you wish to undertake and it is your responsibility to ensure you have all the required approvals.

If you need multiple licence or permit approvals, go to our one-stop shop assessment and approvals.

Frequently asked questions

Do I need a water licence or permit?

What are the types of water licences or permits?

How do I apply for a new water licence or permit?

Steps in the application process:

  1. Determine if you require a licence or permit for your proposal
  2. Register to use Water Online.
  3. Apply online OR choose the correct application form(s) for your proposal.
  4. Read the relevant application form guide
  5. Complete your application form and supply all supporting information, including fees if applicable. 
  6. Lodge your application with all supporting information. 

Applicants for a water licence or permit are advised to register to apply via Water Online.

You can find out if water is available in your area by visiting the Water Register.

While Water Online is the most efficient way to apply for and manage your licences, applications are also accepted on paper forms. These may be forwarded to our office in your local area by post, fax or email.

What application form do I need?

Water licensing application forms and guides are available to view and download.

A number of application forms can be submitted together, including an application to construct a well (26D licence) with an application to take water (5C licence), as well as a section 11,17,or 21A surface water permit application with an application to take water (5C licence).

If you need multiple licence or permit approvals, go to our one-stop shop assessment and approvals.

How long do I have to provide information to support my water licence application?

You may be required to provide additional information to support your application, such as:

  • proof of legal access to the land
  • reports on water resource investigations
  • hydrogeological or hydrological monitoring reports
  • operating strategies.

We will let you know how these reports or proposals should be prepared and how much time you have to submit them as part of your application.

We have established guidelines for the timely submission of additional information. Your application may be returned if the additional information is incomplete or not provided on time.

For further information refer to our policies:

When do applications need to be advertised?

Advertising is required in the following circumstances:

  • Applications for a new groundwater licence for an annual entitlement of more than 100,000 kL
  • Applications to amend a groundwater licence where the additional volume requested is more than 100,000 kL per year
  • Where required under a water resource management plan
  • Where we believe the water resource will be significantly impacted and thereby potentially significantly impact the environment and/or other users of the water resource
  • Where a dewatering licence is required and the net loss of water to the aquifer is greater than 100,000 kL.

We take into account any submissions made by the public within the specified timeframe during the assessment process for the water licence or permit application. These may include submissions from security interests or Native Title claimants, if applicable.

In what circumstances can an application for a water licence and/or permit be refused?

Under the RiWI Act, an applicant may be refused a water licence if:

  • matters in the 7(2) assessment warrant refusal (refer to Stage 3 - Stages of assessment for water licences and permits)
  • the applicant has been convicted of an offence against the Act
  • we are not satisfied that the applicant has the resources, including the financial resources, to carry out the activities to which the licence relates
  • we consider the applicant would not be willing or able to comply with the terms, conditions and restrictions that would be included in the licence.

For more information go to Stage 4 - Stages of assessment for water licences and permits.

If I am not satisfied with the department’s decision on my application, can I request a review?

A review of a departmental decision can be sought for certain decisions associated with water licences but not permits.

An applicant subject to the refusal of some types of water licence applications can request a ‘review’ of the decision at the State Administrative Tribunal. This includes decisions that result in the:

  • refusal to grant a new application
  • refusal to renew a water licence
  • amendment of a water licence duration
  • water licence's terms, conditions or restrictions
  • amendment of a water licence’s terms, condition or restrictions
  • undertaking to grant a water licence, including the duration, terms, conditions or restrictions
  • suspension or cancellation of a water licence or
  • refusal to approve the transfer of a water licence, entitlement or agreement.

For more information go to Stage 4 - Stages of assessment for water licences and permits.

How can I make a submission concerning another person’s proposed water licence or permit?

We may require a licence applicant to notify the public of their proposed water activity by advertising their project in The West Australian newspaper and a local newspaper.

The requirement to advertise is based on the proposed amount of water to be taken or the potential for significant impact to occur to a water resource. This public notification provides an opportunity for any person to make a submission to us outlining their opinions, objections and concerns regarding the project.

The timeframe for making comments is stated in the advertisement.

When making a submission you should:

  • state the nature of the objection or concern
  • indicate how the application will directly (or indirectly) affect you
  • suggest how your objection may be overcome
  • indicate the level of monitoring and management that would provide you with an appropriate level of reassurance that your concerns will be addressed.

Following an assessment of all the submissions and relevant information, we will then decide whether to grant or refuse the water licence application.

A specific condition, or suite of conditions, may be included on a licence to manage any potential impacts that have been identified through submissions. We will notify any person that made a submission of our decision to apply a condition(s) for this purpose.

In the case of large and complex applications, we may compile a report on the range of issues raised and how these should be addressed. This report may be made available to the public and the applicant.