Changes to rural Darwin water regulations

The Minister for Land Resource Management recently announced the removal of the exemption from licensing requirements for bores pumping less than 15L per second in the Darwin Rural Water Control District. This change, effective from 6 July 2016, means those using water from bores other than for stock and domestic purposes in the Darwin Rural Water Control District are required to obtain a water extraction licence.

Residents in the Darwin Rural Water Control District, who take water from a bore for purposes other than stock and domestic use but do not hold a current water extraction licence, will need to obtain a licence and are advised to submit a licence application to Water Resources Division by 30 September 2016.

The exemption has been in place since the commencement of the Water Act in 1992 and was originally established to foster agricultural and horticultural development in the Darwin rural area. Since the exemption was introduced, and more significantly over the last 10 years, there has been considerable residential, industrial, agricultural and horticultural development and increased competition for, and use of, groundwater resources in the region. The removal of the exemption will provide for improved reporting, monitoring and management of water resources by requiring heavy water users to be subject to licencing conditions, including the requirement to install a compliant water meter and monitor and report on water usage, contributing to better overall management of the resource. 

Impacted users are encouraged to apply for a licence by 30 September 2016. Licences will be issued based on current usage and information to help calculate usage is provided in the application form. Water Resources Division staff are also available to assist with any aspect of the application.

No fees apply to water extraction licences, but applicants are normally required to meet application advertising costs. Applicants who apply by 30 September 2016 will not be required to cover the costs of this advertising.

To obtain a licence application or further information go to  or contact Water Resources Division on 8999 4455, or visit Level 4, Goyder Centre, 25 Chung Wah Terrace, Palmerston.

Last updated: 30 April 2020

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