Water service licensing and licence exemptions
To ensure its quality and quantity, the delivery of water services in Western Australia is tightly regulated under Water Services Act 2012.
Under the Act, the Economic Regulation Authority issues licences for the delivery of water services including supply, irrigation, sewerage and drainage. Under certain circumstances the Minister for Water may grant an exemption from licensing.
The Department also issues a range of other types of licences for taking water under the Rights in Water and Irrigation Act 1914, and to clear native vegetation under the Country Areas Water Supply Act 1947.
In Western Australia, a water service includes:
- water supply – supply of potable or non-potable water
- sewerage – collection, treatment and disposal
- irrigation – provision of water for agriculture or pasture
- drainage – management of stormwater, groundwater, surface water or soil salinity, which may include managing the quality of water.
A water supply service is a service that supplies water, whether potable or not, by means of reticulated conduits and other appropriate water supply works.
Licensed water services
A water licensing system is generally required to:
- promote an effective and sustainable water services industry
- prevent water service providers from abusing their monopoly power
- ensure customers are provided with good quality services.
The scheme sets out minimum service and technical standards for providers and requires asset management practices to be monitored. It also ensures that industry participants have the financial and technical capacity that is required to provide water services.
How to apply for a licence
Under the Act, you need a licence, or an exemption, to provide a water service, whether it is water supply, sewerage, irrigation or drainage, in Western Australia.
You can apply for a licence through the office of the Economic Regulation Authority. The authority is responsible for monitoring the performance of service providers, licensing and licence applications.
The Minister for Water may grant licence exemptions, if the exemption is not contrary to the public interest. They may be granted where the cost of meeting licence requirements is greater than the benefit provided to the public by licensing, such as when the number of customers is limited, and the price and quality of service are set in a contract.
Reasons for the Minister's decisions are provided to the applicant and can be requested by any other person.
An exemption may also be granted subject to specified conditions being met, such as providing regular reports on asset maintenance or establishment of a works management system.
Exemptions may be revoked by the Minister if it is in the public interest to do so.
How to apply for an exemption
Applications can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or posted to:
Senior Manager Water and Environmental Policy, Strategic Policy
Department of Water and Environmental Regulation
Locked Bag 10
JOONDALUP DC WA 6919
In assessing an application for exemption, a range of public interest criteria is considered.
Applicants should provide information on the following matters to help with the public interest assessment:
- Environmental considerations, including the value of ecological sustainable development:
- Information on the source of water supply, treatment method and infrastructure details
- Relevant licences and approvals obtained by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation
- Relevant reporting requirements
Public health considerations in relation to the provision of reliable water services:
- Relevant approvals obtained from the Department of Health
- Reporting mechanisms in place
- Social welfare and equity considerations, including operating subsidies, details on charging for water, and:
- Whether the scheme is a not-for-profit service
- Whether any government funding is provided in servicing the scheme
- Economic and regional development, including employment and investment growth:
- Benefits to the community as a result of the water service
- Interests of water services customers generally or a class of water services customers:
- Details on customers and supply arrangements
- Evidence of any agreements with customers
- Interests of any other licensee, or applicant for a licence, to which the exemption order, if made, would apply:
- Are there any other water service providers in the area?
- What is the number of customers and volume of water supplied per year?
- Are there any plans to increase the number of customers and volume of water supplied?
- Are there any other relevant matters?
Activities not requiring a licence
Some activities do not require a licence under the Act. A licence is not required in relation to:
- self-supply, where a person provides water to themselves within the boundaries of a single lot to a single dwelling (e.g. rainwater tanks, single-lot recycled water systems, private bores, farms)
- watering of public open spaces by local councils from council bores
- transporting water or sewerage by cart, truck or tanker
- intermediaries through whom the service is provided by a third party, such as a shopping centre where water is delivered to individual tenants
- mine dewatering, excluding any subsequent on-supply of the mine dewater to other parties
- geothermal water supply services, where water is supplied for heating or cooling and is then returned to the point of supply.
Exemptions may be on a case-by-case basis or for a class of water services. Class exemptions are in place for the following types of water service:
- Class exemption for small local government water services providers
- Class exemption for property managers
- Class exemption for some types of irrigation and water supply services
- Class exemption for mining, oil and gas camps
- Local government drainage services
Exemptions are published in the Western Australian Government Gazette.
Current licence exemptions dating from 1995, with links to the Government Gazette publication on the State Law Publisher's website, are listed below.
- Exemption for BHP Billiton Iron Ore Pty Ltd for the provision of non-potable water services to Newman and surrounds (2021)
- Exemption for the Department of Education for the provision of a water supply service to the WA Country Health Service, Department of Health, in Wangkatjungka (2020)
- Exemption for St Ives Gold Mining Company Pty Ltd for the provision of water services (non-potable water supply) to Salt Lake Mining Pty Ltd (2019)
- Exemption for Hamersley Iron Pty Ltd for the provision of a non-potable water service in Dampier (2018)
- Exemption for Total Eden Pty Ltd for the provision of a water service to the Rosehill Waters Estate, South Guildford (2017)
- Exemption of the Preston Valley Irrigation Co-Operative Ltd for the provision of a water service in the region of Donnybrook (2017)
- Exemption for Edna May Operations Pty Ltd for the provision of a water service in the township of Westonia (2016)
- Exemption for the City of Karratha for the provision of a water service at the Karratha Airport (2016)
- Exemption for the Swan Christian Education Association for the provision of a water service at the Mundaring Christian College (2016)
- Exemption for the Shire of Northampton for the provision of a water service to the town of Port Gregory (2016)
- Exemption for the Robe River Mining Co Pty Ltd for the provision of a non-potable water service in Wickham (2015)
- Exemption for the City of Mandurah for a water service provided to St Damien's Catholic Primary School (2015)
- Exemption for the Australind Tourist Park Pty Ltd for a water service provided to the Bunbury Golf Club (2015)
- Exemption for the City of Greater Geraldton for a water service provided to the Mullewa Township (2015)
- Exemption for the Shire of Merredin for the provision of a water service (2015)
- Exemption for Smiths Beach Resort for the provision of water supply (2015)
- Exemption for Total Eden Pty Ltd for a water service provided at Evermore Heights Estate, Baldivis (2015)
- Shire of Murchison for the provision of water supply (2014)
- City of Fremantle for a water service on Lot 2089 Stevens Street, White Gum Valley (2014)
- Exemption for Carnegie Wave Energy Limited for a water service on Garden Island (2014)
- Bennet Range Pty Ltd for water service to Karri Mia Caravan Park, Denmark (2014)
- Shire of Esperance for non - potable water services (2013)
- Water Services Licensing (Verve Energy) Exemption Order 2012
- Water Services Licensing (Shire of Northam) Exemption Order 2012
- Water Services Licensing (BHP Billiton Nickel West Pty) Exemption Order 2012
- Water Services Licensing (Port Catherine Developments Pty Ltd) Exemption Order 2011
- Water Services Licensing (Mundaring Water Treatment Plant) Exemption Order 2011
- Water Services Licensing (Tropical Forestry Services Ltd) Exemption Order 2011
- Water Services Licensing (Shire of Augusta – Margaret River) Exemption Order 2010
- Water Services Licensing (Lake Argyle Pty Ltd) Exemption Order 2010
- Licence Exemption (BP Refinery (Kwinana) Pty Ltd) Order 2007
- Licence Exemption (LionOre) Order 2006
- Licence Exemption (CSBP) Order 2006
- Licence Exemption (Shire of Manjimup) Order 2005