Water resources management legislation

Water resources in Western Australia are protected and managed under six separate water resource management acts.

There are six separate water resource management acts. These are the:

Through the Water Agencies (Powers) Act 1984, the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation leads water resources management in Western Australia by coordinating cross-government efforts to protect and manage water resources.

Section 9 of the Water Agencies (Powers) Act 1984 outlines the general functions of the Minister for Water, including:

  • conserving, protecting and managing water resources
  • assessing water resources
  • planning for the use of water resources
  • promoting the efficient use of water resources
  • promoting the efficient provision of water services
  • preparing plans for and providing advice on flood management.

The Rights in Water and Irrigation Act 1914 and Rights in Water and Irrigation Regulations 2000 provide for the regulation, management, use and protection of water resources. This act vests the State’s groundwater and surface water resources to the Crown.  Licences are required for the taking and using of water; and permits for activities that may damage, obstruct or interfere with water flow or the beds and banks of watercourses and wetlands in proclaimed rivers, surface water management areas and irrigation districts.

The objects in Section 4 of the Rights in Water and Irrigation Act 1914 provide for the sustainable use and development of water resources, protection of their ecosystems and the environment in which water resources are situated, and for assisting the integration of water resources management with other natural resources management.

The Country Areas Water Supply Act 1947 (CAWS Act) and Metropolitan Water Supply, Sewerage and Drainage Act 1909 and associated by-laws protect the state's public drinking water sources, i.e. proclaimed catchment areas, water reserves and underground water pollution control areas.

The clearing of vegetation is controlled under the Environmental Protection Act 1986, Country Areas Water Supply Act 1947 and Country Areas Water Supply (Clearing Licence) Regulations 1981.

The Country Areas Water Supply Act 1947 and Country Areas Water Supply (Clearing Licence) Regulations 1981 are used to manage the clearing of vegetation to prevent salinisation of water resources in the Mundaring Weir, Wellington Dam, Harris River Dam and Denmark River catchment areas and the Warren River and Kent River water reserves.

Declared waterways management areas are protected and managed under the Waterways Conservation Act 1976. The Albany waterways are the Avon River, Wilson Inlet, Peel Inlet and Leschenault Inlet management areas.

The Metropolitan Arterial Drainage Act 1982 provides for an arterial drainage scheme and the declaration of drainage courses.

Refer to the current water resources management acts, regulations, by-laws and codes for further information.

The Western Australian government is currently working to reform water resources management legislation into one Act. You can view more information on the Water Reform Bill.

Page reviewed 2 November 2022