What is a water service?
A water service is the provision of any of the following services through reticulated piping, conduits and approved infrastructure.
The services include:
- Water supply service – supply of potable or non-potable water
- Sewerage service – collection, treatment and disposal of sewage
- Irrigation service – provision of water for irrigation for agriculture or pasture
- Drainage service – management of stormwater, groundwater, surface water or soil salinity, which may include managing the quality of the water
Why are water services licensed?
The main reason for licensing is to promote and create an effective, efficient and sustainable water services industry. It also exists to prevent water service providers from abusing their power and making sure customers are provided with good quality services.
The licensing scheme also sets out minimum service and technical standards and requires the monitoring of asset management practices.
It also ensures that industry participants have the financial and technical capacity necessary to provide water services.
Do I need a water service licence?
You will require a water service licence, or an exemption under the Act, to provide a water service (water supply, sewerage, irrigation or drainage) in Western Australia.
Activities that do not require a water service licence
Some activities that do not require a licence are:
- 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)
- Transporting water or sewage by cart, truck or tanker
- Where a water service is provided to a party through an intermediary (e.g. a shopping centre where water is delivered to individual tenants)
- Mine dewatering (excluding situations where mine dewater is on-supplied to other parties);
- Geothermal water supply services, where water is supplied for heating and/or cooling and is then returned to the point of supply.
Water servicing licensing and exemptions
The management and equitable sharing of water is one of our highest priorities.
In Western Australia, water services are regulated under the Water Services Act 2012 (the Act).
Under this Act, water utilities are regulated by the Economic Regulation Authority through licensing, however exemptions from licensing may be granted by the Minster for Water.
The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation issues 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.
Water service licence exemptions
Exemptions from water service licensing may be granted by the Minister in circumstances where the exemption is not contrary to the public interest, such as where the cost of meeting licence requirements is greater than the benefit provided to the public by licensing.
This could be because there are a limited number of customers for whom the quality of service and price are set in contract. Reasons for the Minister's decision are given to the exemption applicant and on request to any other person.
An exemption may also be granted subject to conditions, such as the water service provider providing regular reports on asset maintenance, or that a works management system be established.
Exemptions may be revoked by the Minister, if it is in the public interest to do so.
Exemptions are published in the Western Australian Government Gazette, with a list of current and expired licence exemptions dating from 1995, with links to the Government Gazette publication on the State Law Publisher website.
How to apply for a water service licence
The Economic Regulation Authority (ERA) is responsible for licensing and monitoring the performance of water service providers.
How to apply for a water service licence exemption
Applications for an exemption should be made in writing to:
Manager Water Industry Policy
Water Industry Policy
Department of Water and Environmental Regulation
Locked Bag 10
JOONDALUP WA 6919
How are applications assessed?
In assessing an application for a water service licence exemption, the department considers a range of public interest criteria.
Applicants should provide information on the following matters to assist with the public interest assessment:
- Environmental considerations, including the value of ecologically sustainable development
- Information on the source of water supply, treatment method, infrastructure details
- Relevant licences and approvals obtained from the Department of Water and Environment 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 community service obligations
- Is the scheme a not-for-profit service?
- Details on charging of water
- Is there government funding provided in servicing this scheme?
- Economic and regional development, including employment and investment growth
- Benefits to the community as a result of the water supply
- Interests of water services customers generally or of a class of water services customers
- Details on the 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?
- Number of customers and volume of water supplied per year
- Any plans to increase the number of customers and volume of water supplied
- Any other relevant matters?