Managing water resources related to onshore petroleum activities

We regulate the taking of water for the purposes of exploring and extracting onshore petroleum where that water is sourced from a proclaimed groundwater or surface water resource.

The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation is responsible for ensuring Western Australia’s water resources are planned, managed and developed to meet community requirements, now and in the future.

As the state’s lead agency for water, the department actively shapes whole-of-government policy and practice on water resources management and protection relating to onshore petroleum.

We do this by providing leadership and active advice, supported by good science, for the benefit of the community, government, proponents and decision-making authorities.

Our regulatory role

We regulate the taking of water for the purposes of exploring and extracting onshore petroleum where that water is sourced from a proclaimed groundwater or surface water resource.

The department administers the licensing and permitting provisions of the Rights in Water and Irrigation Act 1914, including assessment of applications for:

  • section 26D licence to construct or alter a bore for the taking of water
  • section 5C licence to authorise the taking of water needed for drilling the petroleum well and make up the hydraulic fracturing fluid
  • permit to disturb, destroy or interfere with the bed or bank of a water course.

Applications for these licences and permits are assessed in accordance with the department's policies and processes.

Our advisory role

A key role of the department is to provide advice to other decision making authorities and proponents on activities that have the potential to impact water resources.

We adopt a risk-based approach when assessing and providing advice on the potential impacts of onshore petroleum activities.

Our advice focuses on water source protection management, and include appropriate monitoring, mitigation and remediation measures to ensure the sustainability of water resources and the environment, community and industry they support.

We provide advice in relation to:

  • changes to legislation and supporting documents
  • water planning strategies
  • monitoring of water sources to detect contamination from petroleum activities
  • informing ministers and parliament
  • onshore petroleum applications or proposals referred by the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety, the Environmental Protection Authority, the Appeals Convenor, or other agencies
  • requests from proponents and/or their consultants prior to formal assessment of their proposal by the Environmental Protection Authority and/or the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety or other agencies (for example on aspects of the environmental plan required under the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Resources Act 1967)
  • requests from the community, including local government authorities and interest groups.

Where to find more information

You can read more about water resource licensing and water source protection on our webpages. 

Information on shale and tight gas is available from the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety

Page reviewed 31 August 2022