Water licensing policies

The following policies have been developed to provide:

  • guidance
  • transparency
  • consistency
  • assistance with prioritisation, assessments and order of priority

in relation to water licensing in the NT.


This Northern Territory Government policy expired on 1 March 2019. It is provided here for reference purposes only. It was in place to guide the prioritisation and assessment of groundwater licence applications in the Darwin Rural Water Control District (DRWCD) received as a result of the revocation of the exemption from the requirement to hold a licence that applied to bores equipped to pump 15L per second or less.

There have now been 272 licences issued in terms of this policy.

View the Darwin rural water licensing policy PDF (105.5 KB).

This departmental operational policy provides guidance, transparency and consistency in approach for use by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to verify water requirements relating to water extraction licence applications in the Darwin Rural Water Control District (DRWCD).

View the Darwin rural water licensing: Verifying water requirements policy PDF (115.7 KB).

This Northern Territory Government policy describes the framework for the management of unused licensed water entitlements in the Northern Territory in accordance with the Water Act 1992.

An unused licensed water entitlement is the difference between the minimum extraction limit as specified in the terms and conditions of the licence and the highest actual volume of water extracted in any of three consecutive years.

Its is a licence condition that licensees are to use their licensed water entitlements.

The objective is to ensure that licensed water entitlements are fully utilised for the benefit of the licence holder, the community and the Territory by:

  1. minimising the incidence of unused licensed water entitlements
  2. reducing speculation in licensed water entitlement allocations by ensuring that licence holders are able to demonstrate a genuine need to retain their full licensed water entitlement and
  3. ensuring that decisions to amend or modify a licence are fair and reasonable.

Wasting water is a serious offence under the Water Act 1992, attracting multiple penalties.

View the Management unused licensed water entitlements policy PDF (307.2 KB).

The policy clarifies the process for transitioning water extraction licence applications for mining activity and petroleum activity, as defined in the Water Act 1992, into the Territory’s water regulation framework.

View the Water extraction licensing – Mining and Petroleum activity policy PDF (260.9 KB).

This Northern Territory Government policy provides guidance on the water licence application and assessment processes.

This policy applies from 1 July 2020.

View the Processing water extraction licence applications policy PDF (771.7 KB).

Last updated: 02 July 2020

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