Water regulation – stages of assessment for the application, assessment, and management of water licences and permits.
The department 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 (RIWI Regulations).
The following information provides guidance on the processes undertaken by the department to assess applications for water licences and permits under the RIWI Act, and manage any consequently granted instruments. It also provides links to supporting documents that relate to the specific stages of assessment.
For further detailed information, refer to the department’s 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 the department.
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 from the department 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 Pt IV of the Environmental Protection Act 1986 be necessary?
- do the applications need to be submitted with an appropriate application fee?
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 the department determines whether a water licence or permit application is valid and what happens if it is not.
When submitting an application, applicants should ensure:
- sufficient written proof is provided to demonstrate they are eligible to hold the water licence or permit;
- the correct application form is used. Applicants can apply via Water Online or by using one of the required application forms;
- all mandatory fields on the application form are completed; and
- that the correct application fee has been paid (where applicable).
During validation, the department will consider whether:
- the application is valid; and
- a water licence or permit is required.
Note: Applicants should be prepared to respond to any department requests for inadequate or missing information.
Stage 3 - Assessment
Stage 3: Assessment begins when the department notifies the applicant that their application has been accepted.
This stage outlines how the department undertakes an assessment of an application and when applicants may be contacted for further information and input in the process.
When assessing an application, the department 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 any department requests for inadequate or missing information.
- Regulatory best practice principles
- Policy: Timely submission of required further information
- Operational Policy 5.12 – Hydrogeological reporting associated with a groundwater well licence
- Policy: Use of operating strategies in the water licensing process
- Policy: Giving an undertaking to grant a water licence or permit
- DWER Allocation Planning page
- Regulatory Standard 001: Stamp duty requirements for water licensing
- Regulatory Standard 014: Section 5C licence tenure
- Western Australian water in mining guideline
Other website links
Stage 4 - Decision review
Stage 4: Decision review begins when the department issues its decision on an application.
This stage outlines the review process through which the department’s decisions may be challenged by those who disagree with the assessment outcomes.
A review may be requested if the department's decision results in the:
- refusal to grant an application
- refusal to renew an 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 the department’s 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 the decision must be altered, the department will implement SAT’s determination as applicable.
Stage 5 - Instrument management
Stage 5: Instrument management begins when an instrument is granted and continues for the entire duration of the instrument.
This stage outlines 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.
Instrument holders may apply to:
- renew their instrument
- amend their instrument
- surrender their instrument and/or
- transfer and/or trade their instrument or water entitlement.
The department will:
- undertake compliance inspections
- 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.
- Compliance and Enforcement Policy
- Regulatory best practice principles
- Policy: Water entitlement transactions for Western Australia
- Policy: Management of unused licensed water entitlements
- Measuring the taking of water
- DWER Allocation Planning page