Stages of assessment for water licences and permits

Process stages for the application, assessment and management of water licences and permits.
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The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation manages Western Australia’s water resources through the provisions of the Rights in Water and Irrigation Act 1914 (RiWI Act) and the Rights in Water and Irrigation Regulations 2000.

The process we undertake to assess applications for licences and permits under the RiWI Act is outlined below. Information on how we manage any consequently granted instruments (an instrument is a term used in the RiWI Act to refer to  licences and permits) and links to supporting documents are also provided.

For more information, refer to our Procedure: Water licences and permits.

Stage 1 - Pre-application

Stage 1: Pre-application begins when the prospective applicant considers whether they require a water licence or permit.

This stage helps prospective applicants determine whether they need a water licence or permit, and the matters they will need to address/consider before submitting an application to us.

Prospective applicants will need to consider:

  • Is a water licence or permit required for the proposed activities?
  • Will a pre-application scoping meeting be required?
  • Will additional approvals directly associated with the proposed activities be required? (e.g. is it part of a larger project)
  • Will a referral to the Environmental Protection Authority under Part IV of the Environmental Protection Act 1986 be necessary?
  • Do the applications need to be submitted with an appropriate application fee?


  • None



Stage 2 - Validation

Stage 2: Validation begins when the applicant has submitted an application form for a water licence or permit.

This stage outlines how we determine whether a water licence or permit application is valid.

Applicants should be prepared to respond to our requests for inadequate or missing information. An application will be considered 'not valid' and returned to the applicant where the form is incomplete or the applicant fails to supply additional information we request that is relevant to the application.

When submitting an application, applicants should ensure:

  • sufficient written proof is provided to demonstrate they are eligible to hold the water licence or permit
  • while Water Online is the most efficient way to apply for and manage your licences, applications are also accepted on paper forms which may be forwarded to your local department office via post, fax or email
  • all mandatory fields on the application form are completed
  • that the correct application fee has been paid (where applicable).

During validation, we will check:

Is a licence or permit required for the specified water use(s)?

An application can only be accepted for water uses that require a licence or permit.

Has the correct form been lodged?

An application can only be accepted if the correct form has been completed.

Have the mandatory fields on the application form been completed?

An application can only be accepted if all mandatory fields on the form are completed. Please ensure you use the checklist at the back of each form which identifies the mandatory fields that need to be completed.

Has all the relevant evidence been provided?

An application can only be accepted if there is sufficient evidence supplied in support of the information provided in the form. Please ensure you use the checklist at the back of each form which will inform you of the required documentation.

Is a fee required?

An application can only be accepted when the associated fee has been paid.

An application fee is payable for the following applications:

Form 4A – $200

Form 4T – $200

Form 5I–  $70 each

Certified duplicate – $50

Is the form signed by the applicant or is there proof of authority?

An application can only be accepted if ALL applicants sign it.

As the applicant, you must sign the application or provide a letter of authorisation for an agent to sign the application on your behalf. A statutory declaration also can give this authority.


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Stage 3 - Assessment

Stage 3: Assessment begins when we notify the applicant that their application has been accepted.

This stage outlines how we assess an application and when applicants may be contacted for further information and input in the process.

The grant or refusal of an application for a licence or permit (and the terms, conditions and restrictions to be included) are subject to the following matters:  

  • in the public interest
  • ecologically sustainable
  • environmentally acceptable
  • not prejudicial to other current and future needs for water
  • unlikely to have a detrimental effect on another person
  • unable to be provided for by another source
  • in keeping with
    • local practices
    • relevant by-laws
    • plan approved under Part III Division 3D Subdivision 2
    • relevant previous decisions of the Minister
  • consistent with
    • land use planning instruments
    • requirements and policies of other government agencies
    • intergovernmental agreements or arrangements.

These matters are assessed in accordance with Schedule 1, Division 2, clause 7(2) of the RiWI Act.

Obligations under other legislation such as the Duties Act 2008 and the Commonwealth's Native Title Act 1993 also are taken into account. Discharging our obligations under the Native Titles Act, where applicable, generally adds a minimum of 30 days to the assessment timeframe.

More complex water licence applications or applications for a large volume of water may require further information or action. As part of the application assessment process, applicants may be requested to:

We will request this further information within a certain time frame. Refer to our policy Timely submission of required further information.

When assessing an application, we will:

  • determine an appropriate assessment pathway and (if applicable) the application fee
  • determine if the application needs to be referred to the Environmental Protection Authority under Pt IV of the Environmental Protection Act 1986 (if not previously referred to them in Stage 1)
  • determine if further information is required from the applicant and/or whether they will need to advertise their application
  • notify any relevant security interests and/or third party agreement holders
  • assess the application based on the best information it has available to it
  • determine what conditions are appropriate to attach to the water licence or permit (when proposing to grant the application)
  • determine if the applicant needs to be consulted on the proposed decision and, if so, send them the proposed/draft decision for comment
  • consider any comments received from the applicant on the draft decision
  • finalise its decision (and, if applicable, issue a water licence or permit)
  • notify any person who provided comment of the decision.

Note: applicants should be prepared to respond to our requests for inadequate or missing information.

Once an assessment of the application has been completed, we will consider one of the following:

  • grant a licence consistent with the application
  • provide a written expression of undertaking to issue a licence once legal access is obtained
  • propose to refuse a licence
  • propose to grant a licence inconsistent with the application (e.g. water entitlement less than requested on application)
  • return the application if the requested information was not provided in accordance with the department's submission requirements. Refer to our policy Timely submission of required further information.

We will consider all submissions made by other parties when an applicant (licence or permit) must notify the public of their proposed water activity by advertising their project.

We may propose a licensed water entitlement for a volume of water that is less than what was initially requested on the application due to:

  • water availability or department policy
  • licence or permit conditions that will significantly alter the operation
  • conditions of usage on a transferee's licence
  • conditions in approvals of agreement requiring water quality monitoring.

Applicants are advised in writing when a proposed decision has been made. You may respond, in writing, if we recommend either refusing the licence or granting a licence that is inconsistent with the application. We will consider any submission by the applicant in making a final decision.




Stage 4 - Decision review

Stage 4: Decision review begins when we issue our decision on an application.

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 – Assessment]
  • 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.

This stage outlines the review process through which our decisions may be challenged by those who disagree with the assessment outcomes.

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 our 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.


  • Other interested parties do not have any review rights, and cannot request a SAT review of our decision.
  • There are no rights to request a review of decisions for water permits (s.11, 17, 21A of the RiWI Act).

Where a SAT review determines that our decision must be altered, we will implement SAT’s determination as applicable.


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Stage 5 - Instrument management

Stage 5: Instrument management begins when an instrument (i.e. a water licence or permit) is granted and continues for the entire duration of the instrument.

This stage captures the roles of the department and the water licence or permit holder in managing an active water licence or permit.

Instrument holders must comply with the conditions attached to their water licence or permit. Contravention of these conditions is an offence under the RiWI Act. Read about the responsibilities of water licence and permit holders.

Water licence holders may apply to:

  • renew their licence
  • amend their licence
  • transfer their licence (water entitlement remains on property, i.e. sale of property)
  • trade part or all of their licence (water entitlement moves to another property)
  • surrender their licence

Water permit holders may apply to:

  • amend their permit
  • surrender their permit

The department will:

  • undertake compliance inspections including adherence to conditions associated with the water licence or permit
  • where necessary, undertake appropriate enforcement actions against identified breaches of water licence or permit conditions or offences under the RiWI Act itself.

The department may also initiate proposals to amend a water licence or permit.