Applying for a Water Licence

Who requires a Water Licence?

DPIPWE has been delegated the power to grant or refuse water licence applications in accordance with the Water Management Act 1999. You must have a water licence and water allocation if you intend to take water from a river or stream, or store water in a farm dam, for farming or other commercial purposes with the exception of users listed under Part 5 of the Act.

Rights to water under Part 5 are predominantly for riparian landholders wishing to take water for stock, domestic house and garden purposes. Part 5 rights also cover the following uses of water:
  • Riparian landholders for domestic purposes and livestock consumption
  • Firefighting
  • Casual users for the above purposes
  • Surface water (water flowing over land and not in a watercourse) for any purpose
  • Groundwater for any purpose unless the area has been declared as a specified Groundwater Area*
  • Small-scale generation of hydro-electricity.
If it becomes necessary to put in place controls to protect rights of other users including the environment, a water licence may be required for the above. This requirement can either be put in place under the Water Regulations or via a Water Management Plan.

Licences provide specific details of a person's rights to take water allocated under the licence.

* A Groundwater Area is an area of land that has been appointed as a Groundwater Area by an order made by the Minister. The purpose of a Groundwater Area is to specifically define limited areas in which the groundwater resources are intensively used and to implement groundwater licensing in those areas in order to equitably and sustainably manage the resource.

The Sassafras Wesley Vale groundwater area has been proclaimed as a part of the Sassafras Wesley Vale Water Management Plan. See Groundwater Management and Sassafras Wesley Vale Water Management Plan for more information.

Obtaining a Water Licence and Allocation

  • Make an appointment with a consultant to discuss your proposal.  See the water and dam application consultant list to find a consultant.
  • The consultant visits the site and discusses the proposal with the applicant.
  • A report is prepared on the site visit and other supporting documentation is attached.
  • The application is advertised with a 14 day period for representations (objections). The application, report and any representations received are assessed. DPIPWE will then judge the validity of any public objections submitted as part of the application process. Licences must not contravene any Water Management Plans or jeopardise any ecological or commercial values of the specific region of the application.
  • When approval for the water licence is given or refused, both the applicant and those making objections are advised. A further 14 days is allowed for successful applicants to request a review of licence conditions, or unsuccessful applicants and those with public objections to appeal the authorities decision to the Resource Management and Planning Appeals Tribunal (Appeals Tribunal).
  • Where a review of the licence decision or an appeal has been undertaken, the application will be subject to their outcome.
  • Once a water licence is issued, it becomes a property right and is not specifically attached to the land title but is the property of the landowner.

How long does a Water Licence last?

A water licence will be issued for a period of 40 years with provision made for reassessment of licence conditions every five years.

Surety Levels

Surety levels indicate the surety with which a water allocation can be expected to be available for taking. Level 1 water is available at the highest surety level. Where water restrictions are imposed the restriction protocol will generally restrict water allocations at a lower level of surety before restricting the taking of water of allocations at higher surety.

The hierarchy of levels from highest to lowest is as follows:

Surety 1 Water (expected to be available at greater than 95% reliability)
  1. Rights for the taking of water for domestic purposes, consumption by livestock or firefighting under Part 5 of the WMA "Rights in Respect of Water" (i.e. no licence required);
  2. Rights of councils to take water for town water supplies (allocation at this surety level is two thirds of their actual daily usage in the five years prior to 2000 multiplied by 1.05 with the remaining one third allocated as surety 5).
Surety 2 Water
The water provision allocated to supply the needs of ecosystems dependent on the water resource.

Surety 3 Water
Rights of licensees granted a licence by way of replacement of "old " prescriptive rights granted under previous Acts. Under Clause 10 of Schedule 4 of the WMA, these licences are issued for a period of not less than 99 years. The taking of water is generally for commercial purposes.

Surety 4 Water
Rights of special licensees such as Hydro Tasmania. Special licences are granted to a body corporate for the generation of electricity, or for purposes reasonably incidental to that purpose, or for a specified purpose on application in writing to an Advisory Committee if the application is consistent with the objectives of the WMA.

Surety 5 Water (expected to be available at about 80% reliability - eight years in ten)
Rights issued for the taking of water otherwise than for the purposes described above under Surety levels 1-4. This includes rights issued for the taking of water under Part 6 of the WMA "Licensing and Allocation of Water" for direct extraction, and for winter storage in dams, for use for irrigation or other commercial purposes.

Surety 6 Water (water allocations available at a less than about 80% reliability)
Rights at this surety level issued for the taking of water under Part 6 of the WMA "Licensing and Allocation of Water" for direct extraction for use for irrigation and other commercial purposes and for winter storage in dams.

Surety 7 & 8 Water
Water allocations available with a lower level of reliability than a Surety 6 allocation. These allocations include water provided under catchment or site specific limitations and conditions, such as water taken in flood peaks in Hydro Water Districts to fill dam storages.

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