The Queensland Government is now in caretaker mode until after the state election. Minimal updates will be made to this site until after the election results are declared.

When a water licence is needed

You may need a water licence for taking or interfering with surface water, overland flow water or underground water.

Surface water

Under the Water Act 2000, you will need a water licence for taking or interfering with water in a watercourse, lake or spring for purposes such as:

  • stock or domestic use on lands that do not adjoin a watercourse, lake or spring
  • irrigation
  • industrial or commercial use
  • storing water behind a weir
  • impounding water behind a storage structure
  • storing water in excavations that are within or connected to a watercourse.

Overland flow water

In some areas of Queensland, you may need a water licence to take or interfere with overland flow water. These areas are identified in moratorium notices and water plans.

Underground water

Generally, you will need a water licence to take underground water in groundwater areas established through the Water Regulation 2016 or a water plan. This includes groundwater management areas and subartesian management areas.


Failure to ensure you have the required licence may result in prosecution under the Water Act for the following offences:

  • unauthorised taking or supplying of water
  • unauthorised interfering with water
  • contravening a condition of a water licence
  • tampering with a device used under the Act to measure the volume of water taken, or the rate and time of taking of water.


Coronavirus (COVID-19) business support: 1300 654 687

General enquiries: 13 QGOV (13 74 68)