Form 3S guide: Licence to take surface water

A step-by-step guide to completing a Form 3S application.
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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 your local department office by post, fax or email.

This is a guide to completing an application on a paper form.

An application for a licence or permit does not guarantee access to water. You are encouraged to view our Water Register to understand the water availability in your area.

A guide to completing a Form 3S application

This guide is for Form 3S - Licence to take surface water.

You can read about the 10 parts to the Form 3S application below.

Application Form 3S is relevant for:

  • new proposals to take surface water
  • renewal of an existing licence to take surface water that is about to expire
  • amend existing licences to take surface water where the licensee is requesting changes to be made.

If you require further assistance, please contact us on 1800 508 885 or

Important information

It is important to ensure you have provided all information required on the application form.

To help you with this, we have included a checklist located at the back of the application form. There is also a section detailing the attachments you may need and any other documentation you may be required to submit in support of your application.

Supporting documents provided as part of the application may be required under legislation to be made available through Freedom of Information or as part of a parliamentary inquiry. Applicants should note in their applications which documents or information contained in documents are confidential and for what reasons.

Applications deemed incomplete will be returned. Delays caused by the return of an application may result in water not being available when the completed application is re-submitted.

Part 1: Application

What is my application type?

Select 'New licence to take surface water' on the application form:

  • when you do not have an existing licence to take water from the surface water resource OR
  • if you are an existing licensee applying to take surface water from a different water resource to your existing licence(s).
  • if your licence has expired.

Select 'Renew an existing licence to take surface water' on the application form:

  • if you have a licence and it is about to expire and you require no changes on the current licence to allocation, usage, property or conditions.

Applications to renew a licence must be submitted before the expiry date of the licence. If a renewal application is submitted after the expiry date, water availability cannot be guaranteed, and you will need to submit a new application.

Select 'Amend an existing licence to take surface water' on the application form:

  • if you are requesting changes to your existing licence.

Changes include:

  • a different property but same surface water resource
  • the amount of water use
  • a new or different source, dam or take point
  • changes to existing water usages
  • if your name has changed.

If you are renewing your licence and changes are required you must tick the 'Renew' and 'Amend' box when selecting your application type on the application form.

To help us process your application, please provide your existing licence number in the box provided on the application form. Your licence number will begin with the letters SWL.

Part 2: Applicant(s) details

It is important that we have your correct details to ensure any licence that may be issued in response to your application is a valid legal document.  

We may also need to contact you during the assessment process, particularly if we require further information from you to assess your application. If we have your phone number and email we can avoid unnecessary delays.

What name do I put on the application form?

A licence can only be issued to a legal entity. All individuals are legal entities and can apply for a licence.

The name(s) of all the persons you wish to be shown on the licence need to be provided. You must provide full name(s). A licence is a legal document and your full name is required. Initials cannot be accepted.

You can also nominate a point of contact within an organisation, or on behalf of other applicants.  In this case we need a letter of authority for this person to act on the applicant's behalf. A statutory declaration can also be used for giving this authority.

Individual: All individuals are legal entities and can apply for a licence.

Organisation: The following organisation types are legal entities:

Company: A company is a business, which undergoes incorporation and becomes a legal entity, separate from the individuals who established it. A company may be registered as either a proprietary company or a public company. A company name has an associated Australian Company Number (ACN) and an Australian Business Number (ABN).

Partnership / Family partnership: A partnership is the relation between persons carrying on a business in common with a view of profit under the Partnership Act 1895.  A partnership is not a separate legal entity from the partners. A Partnership Name will have an associated Australian Business Number (ABN).

Association /Incorporated body: Many social, sporting and community groups can incorporate under the Associations Incorporations Act 1987. Associations must supply an Incorporated Association Registration Number (ARN) on the application form.

Water service provider: A list of water service licence holders and their licence details is available on the Economic Regulation Authority website.

Government: All local, state and federal government agencies are legal entities.

Aboriginal community: All aboriginal communities are legal entities.

Strata company: A strata company may be a legal entity, that falls within the incorporated body category. The strata company must have a valid IARN or ABN to ensure they are a legal entity.

Trustees and beneficiaries: Trustees and beneficiaries are legal entities, but not the trust itself.

The trustee’s name(s) should be identified on a water licence or permit, described as either a:

  • natural person (e.g. Joe Smith)
  • legal entity (e.g. company name)
  • a body corporate name where enabling legislation identifies it as a ‘statutory body trust’.

Business names: A business name is not a legal entity.

Trusts: A trust is a relationship between two or more legal entities, where one legal entity (the trustee) holds property on behalf of one or more legal entities (the beneficiaries). While trustees and the beneficiaries are legal entities, the trust itself is a relationship, and cannot own or occupy land, or hold licences.

Do I need to provide an ABN, ARN or ACN?

If you have applied for a licence in a company/organisation name you will need to provide the relevant Australian Business Number, Australian Registration Number or Australian Company Number.

If you are a company you must have an associated Australian Company Number (ACN) or Australian Business Number (ABN).

If you are a partnership you will have an associated ABN.

If you are an association or incorporated body you must supply an Incorporated Association Registration Number (ARN).

If you are a strata company that falls within a incorporated body then you must have a valid ARN or ABN.

What address do I provide?

You must provide us with your postal address as all correspondence related to your application and/or licence will be sent here. You must also provide a physical address if you have entered a PO Box address in the postal address section.

Why does the department need my phone number?

We may need to contact you to verify or confirm information in your application. To avoid unnecessary delays in processing your application, please provide a contact phone number.  You can also provide an email address if you have one.

Am I a water service provider?

Water services are regulated under the Water Services Act 2012, under this Act water utilities are regulated by the Economic Regulation Authority (ERA) through licensing. Exemptions from licensing may be granted by the Minister for Water.

A water service is the provision of any of the following services to another party by means of reticulated conduits and appropriate works:

  • water supply service – supply of potable or non-potable water
  • sewerage service – collection, treatment and disposal of sewerage
  • irrigation service – provision of water for irrigation for agriculture or pasture
  • drainage service – management of stormwater, groundwater, surface water or soil salinity, which may include managing the quality of water.

For details on how to apply for a water service licence and view a list of current water service licence holders please visit the Economic Regulation Authority website.

Find out how to obtain an exemption.

If you are not a water service provider, please leave this section blank.

Part 3: Application details

There may be other forms that need to be completed or information to be provided to the department depending on how you propose to take the water and whether the infrastructure is in place or needs to be constructed (new).

Your application(s) can be processed in a timely manner if all the relevant information is provided. All relevant application forms for your proposal can be submitted together.

What will the water be drawn from?

A dam is an embankment constructed to store or regulate surface water flow. A dam can be constructed in or outside a watercourse.

A watercourse is a river, stream or creek in which water flows in a natural channel, whether permanently or intermittently. Water may be drawn directly or indirectly from a watercourse.

What additional information is required for a new application?

If you are altering the watercourse or bed and banks a permit is required to do so.

Please complete water licensing Form 3P - Application for a new section 11/17 or 21A permit to interfere with bed and banks and include it with your 3S application.

Indicate on the application form if you have already submitted a 3P to us.

Part 4: Property from which water is to be taken

You are only required to complete this section if your application is a:

  • new proposal to take surface water; or
  • request to amend your existing licence to take surface water, where the property details of the existing licence have changed. Refer to your existing licence to determine if the property details have changed since the licence was last issued.

What if I propose to use the water on a different property to where I will be taking the water from?

You must complete details of both properties if the water is to be used on a property other than where the water is to be taken from.

The details of the property from which the water will be taken should be provided at the top of Part 4 of the application form.

The details of the property where the water will be used should be provided at the bottom of Part 4 of the application form.

What if the application is for mining activities?

If the application is for a mine, complete the fields relating to mines. This includes the second section if the location or mining tenement for the water use is different from that which the water is taken from.

Part 6: Location plan

This plan should provide us with the position of the dam or watercourse in relation to your property. We use this information to verify the property description provided above.

These maps are important if you do not know the GPS coordinates of the dam or watercourse.

The exact location of your drawpoint(s) is important to be able to assess and manage your impacts on others and the environment.

Please provide a location plan of the property in the box provided or on a separate piece of paper to be included with your application form.

You should include:

  • location of all wetlands/watercourses/wells/soaks (existing and proposed)
  • major improvements (house, large sheds, etc.)
  • roads or landmarks
  • shaded areas to indicate areas on, or for which the water will be used.

If required provide a detailed plan as an attachment.

Part 7: Details of water use

You are only required to complete this section if your application is a:

  • new proposal to take surface water; or
  • a request to amend your existing licence to take surface water, where the water usage details of the existing licence have changed. Refer to your existing licence to determine if the water usage details have changed since the licence was last issued.

How do I estimate annual water quantity?

We use standard water application rates. The standard rates are based on cropping area and crop type.

You can estimate your annual water quantity for crops using the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development's Irrigation calculator.

If you are unsure as to how much water you require, please leave the 'Estimated annual quantity' column blank and provide details in the other columns in the application form.

Please note that 1 kilolitre = 1,000 litres.

Please indicate on the form if your water use is ongoing or temporary. If the use is temporary, indicate the timeframe in years in the box provided.

Part 8: Resources

To ensure equitable water use for all, we need to know if you currently have all of your infrastructure in place to utilise your full water entitlement or if you are progressing with putting infrastructure in to eventually utilise your full water entitlement.

If you do not currently have all your infrastructure in place to fully utilise your water entitlement, please outline the steps or actions you plan to take to be able to utilise your full water entitlement.

Details should include proposed timeframes for those steps or actions to be completed.  

Steps or actions would typically include those related to development of the property (e.g. installation of irrigation) or development of the project (e.g. securing financial support or planning approval).

If you cannot demonstrate you have sufficient resources to undertake the proposed activities, your application may be refused.

Part 9: Other approvals

The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation was established by the Government of Western Australia on 1 July 2017. It is a result of the amalgamation of the Department of Environment Regulation, Department of Water and the Office of the Environmental Protection Authority.

Please indicate if you have also applied or intend to apply for any approvals under Part V of the Environmental Protection Act 1986, so that we can consider a coordinated approach to your applications.

Registration of premises

It is an offence to perform any action that would cause a premises to become a prescribed premises of a type listed in Schedule 1 of the Environmental Protection Regulations 1987, unless that action is done in accordance with a works approval, licence, or registration

Works Approval

Part V Division 3 of the Environmental Protection Act 1986 requires a works approval to be obtained before constructing a prescribed premises.

Licence to discharge to the environment

It is an offence to cause an emission or discharge onto land, into air or into waters unless a licence or registration is held for the premises. Emissions include but are not limited to gases and particulates, wastewater, noise, contaminates stormwater, dust, leachate, odour and electromagnetic radiation.

Permit to clear native vegetation Under Part V, Division 2 of the Environmental Protection Act 1986

Clearing native vegetation is an offence, unless done under a clearing permit, or if the clearing is for an exempt purpose. Flooding vegetation is considered clearing.

Part 10: Signature or seal of applicant

By signing the application form you are confirming that all information in the application form is true and correct.

Signatures of all applicants must be provided on the application form before it can be accepted.

As the applicant you must sign and date the application.

What if there is more than one applicant for a licence?

If you require multiple names on your licence, a signature is required from each applicant. Check to ensure you have provided details of all applicants at Part 2.

What if I am applying on behalf of a company?

If you are applying on behalf of a company you must provide written evidence that you are authorised to do so. A statutory declaration can also be used for giving this authority.