Frequently Asked Questions

Licence Trading

Do water licences expire?

Generally, the maximum period for a licence is 10 years. In Western Australia, you will need to renew your groundwater licence with the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation before the expiry date printed on the licence.

To renew your water licence, you need to complete and lodge Form 3G

We can also take care of the licence renewal application and process for you, submitting the required paperwork and interfacing with DWER on youtr behalf.

What is an Aquifer?

An aquifer is a body of water below the ground that is made of permeable rock, soil or clay that enables water to flow through it. Aquifers are generally referred to as confined and unconfined.

  • Unconfined Aquifers (eg. Superficial) are naturally able to transfer water with the environment around it, such as a river, lake or the ground surface above. These are generally closer to the surface. Due to the unconfined nature, these aquifers are readily accessed and can vary greatly in production quantity and quality.
  • Confined Aquifers (eg. Mirrabooka & Leederville) are separated and contained to a ground layer and area. These can still be extremely large, however, they are naturally sealed from other aquifers and environments, generally via an impermeable layer of clay, and should not blend with other aquifers. These bodies of water can still be accessed via a bore, although it is vital that they are sealed off during the drilling. As these bodies are enclosed, they can often produce very consistent production quantity and quality, usually at higher bore drilling costs, due to the depths and construction specifications required.
Why is the Department of Water looking to take/reclaim licenses?

Over the last 30 years rainfall rates per year have been decreasing and bore abstraction rates have increased, which drops the water levels in the aquifers.The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation has been tasked with bringing this back into balance by 2030, which is a huge task and will require further restrictions of water usage.

Decreasing the amount of water licences or allocations of the currently issued licences will eventually result in a lower abstraction rate.

How do I buy/sell a licence?

Traditionally you’ll need to find a buyer/seller in the same water resource you’re allowed to trade with, and offer to buy/sell part or the full allocation. A water allocation can be transferred to an existing or a new licence. This water can then be relocated and used for different purposes.

Both parties have to fill out and submit Form 4T from the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation. The trade will then go through due diligence with DWER, which usually takes multiple months before approved.

The process will look at the following:

  • Are you seeking to trade within your designated groundwater sub-area and aquifer?
  • What the allocation is currently used for?
  • Is the allocation is currently being fully utilised?
  • What is the new intent for the allocation?
  • Are there any environment incumbents?
  • Does the new owner of the allocation have the infrastructure in place to utilise the allocation or the financial capability to construct it?

 

Alternatively, you can talk to us. You can let us find you a buyer/seller for your trade, handle all the paperwork according to the current regulations and guidelines, and interface on your behalf with DWER. We will take care of the whole process.

 We make water licensing simple.

Does the water licence come with the property I’ve purchased?

By default, no.

Including the water licence as part of the property settlement does not automatically transfer ownership of the allocation into your name.

You must notify the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation that there has been a change in ownership of the licence within 30 days of settlement. If you do not notify them, you will risk losing the allocation.

To notify, you must apply for a Transfer via Form 4T. Alternatively, we can also take care of the licence transfer on your behalf. You can simply talk to us, and we will go through the whole process with you.


A transfer is different from a trade, transfers are when the allocation is staying on the same property just with a change of licence owner. A trade is when the allocation being traded to a different property. 

Do you represent the Department of Water?

No. BD Water is a private business and we do not represent the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation.

All information we provide is our own interpretation of their documentation and if unsure please confirm with DWER directly.

Can I trade licences with anyone?

Not with anyone.

You are only allowed to trade water within the same water resource. A water resource is the combination of groundwater area and sub-area & aquifer.

  • For the semi-confined aquifers Mirrabooka and Leederville, the trading range isn’t very restricted, as the sub-areas cover a wide geographical area.
  • For the Superficial aquifer, the groundwater sub-areas are geographical boundaries that put a more significant limit on the water resources. The same suburb can have 3-4 different sub-areas within itself.

You can check what water resource your property is in, and which licences you own, via this Department of Water and Environmental Regulation link. Alternatively, you can contact us to take care of all of this for you.

Our system makes it easy to find buyers or sellers, and you can be sure you are trading with parties you are allowed to.

Can I get a new water licence issued?

Generally, no.

The majority of areas and aquifers are over allocated, meaning there is more water being extracted from the ground then there is replenishing the supply (via rainfall). This means no more new licences are being issued, certainly not around the denser areas of Perth.

There are some cases where a temporary allocation may be issued but this is generally reserved for construction works or emergency situations.

Generally, the only option for getting an allocation is to trade it with someone else.

What is water licensing?

The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation started regulating the water use in WA because, simply put, we’re taking more water out of the ground than what’s going back in. This results in water levels dropping.

 

A groundwater licence is one of the ways DWER monitors and manages the amount of water being abstracted.

Water licences allow their holders to take more groundwater that the unlicensed standard amount to irrigate 1/2 an acre (2000 square meters).

Bore Drilling

How much will it cost to get a consultation and quote?

We offer both of those free. We will offer a quote once we have had time to go through a consultation with you, and in some cases view the property. This will ensure you get the most accurate quote possible. It also provides us with an opportunity to get to know you and your needs.

If the quote cannot be provided without testing your bore or system, we will discuss the costs of these services before doing anything, to ensure you are informed of any costs associated.

Are the rocks in the soil an issue for bore drilling?

Our rigs are custom built for drilling in all types of surface around Perth.

For the Perth Hills, we have designed and built hybrid rigs, which apply a technique of Mud Rottary drilling for the clays and sandy soils, as well as a Air Hammer process for the rock layers. This ensures the drilling process is as smooth as possible, even in these surfaces.

Can a water bore be installed anywhere?

No, not everywhere is suitable for a water bore. This is particularly relevant in the Perth Hills, where there are no aquifers, but rather rocks and water bodies in their fractures. The drilling technique in these conditions is aiming at intersecting a stream of water in those fractures.

There are certain factors that contribute to a higher chance of finding such water bodies, particularly the altitude of the Hill. Our drillers are experienced in this soil type, and they will happily suggest the better location in your property for the drilling. We are also happy to work in a location of your choice.

Finding water isn't certain, but selecting the best location will increase our odds.

What type of maintenance will I have to carry out on my bore?

The most important factor is that the installation is handled properly. Maintenance costs can be significantly presented if the construction of the bore is done right in the first place. This is why we don't compromise on the quality of our bore drilling teams and processes. The model and size of pump also affect the health of the bore, so they need to be carefully selected and tailored to the bore and irrigation needs.

After the installation, you should keep an eye out for signs of damage or corrosion, and you can also test the water quality through samples.

Can I get a water bore if a drilling rig can't access my lawn?

It’s possible to drill in your front yeard or driveway. No lawn access doesn’t mean it’s impossible for you to have a water bore installed.

We can discuss the best option for your property and drilling needs during your free consultation.

Can I be sure I will find water?

In the majority of suburbs, we have a good level of confidence. However, there are some exceptions.

A water bore pulls water from an aquifer or groundwater body, so one needs to be physically present in your property. In some cases, particularly in the Hills, one house can have a consistent and plentiful water supply, and the next door neughbour can't find water!

We are happy to discuss this further if you contact us. It’s always best to take steps to ensure your property is suitable before we go any further in the consultation process.

How do you connect the new bore to my existing system?

We disconnect the existing system from the mains and simply change its water source to the new bore, connected by the piping system. The controller can be rewired to the new box. This is a simple turn-key solution that we carry out in most integration systems.

Does bore water need to be treated?

Bore water doesn’t need to be treated it if it’s odourless, colourless, the pH tests greater than 5 or, you have no plans to consume it. If you do want to consume it, it’s important to test and chlorinate it properly. For more information about drinking from the water bores in Perth, consult the official drinking water guidelines.

Is bore water suitable for household use?

The groundwater pulled from a bore is suitable for non-potable use, like washing clothes, irrigating farms, flushing toilets, and washing the car. If it’s your only supply of water, then you will need to carry out annual testing to ensure it’s safe to do so. You should never use bore water to drink, bathe, fill a pool or water edible plants unless it has been tested by a professional body.

How long is the installation of a water bore in Perth?

Depending on the depth of the drilling, the construction of the hole itself can take longer.

Generally, for the Standard Superficial Aquifer or the Perth Hills Fractures, it takes us one day to drill and construct the bore. We can arrange to get your pump installation and connection to irrigation system the next day. In all, the project takes about 2 days.

Bores into the Mirrabooka and Leederville Aquifers are a longer process, as they require a pilot bore so that a wireline log is conducted and sent to Department of Water and Environmental Regulation for their approval, before the final bore and construction can be finalised. In this case, the project takes about a week once the drilling itself commences.

Can I share a bore with my neighbour?

Yes, it’s possible to install a bore that will feed yours and your neighbour’s homes. Usually, neighbours sign a Bore Sharing Agreement that covers costs and duties, as well as usage of the bore for each party. The bore will be located in one of the properties and connected to the 2 different irrigation systems.

We can take care of the whole process, from the agreement, to the drilling of a new bore (if required), to the mechanical connection to both systems.

What is superficial water?

Superficial water is the natural water found immediate below the ground and generally what you find within the first 0-50 metres of drilling. it’s unconfined, meaning it can interact with other environmental structures (rivers,lakes, etc) and is responsible for over 90% of bore production in the Perth area.

The production quantity and quality can vary heavily due to its unconfined nature.

You don’t need a licence to access this aquifer so long as you’re only using it for domestic purposes (irrigating less than 1/2 an acre).

What is an Aquifer?

An aquifer is a body of water below the ground that is made of permeable rock, soil or clay that enables water to flow through it. Aquifers are generally referred to as confined and unconfined.

  • Unconfined Aquifers (eg. Superficial) are naturally able to transfer water with the environment around it, such as a river, lake or the ground surface above. These are generally closer to the surface. Due to the unconfined nature, these aquifers are readily accessed and can vary greatly in production quantity and quality.
  • Confined Aquifers (eg. Mirrabooka & Leederville) are separated and contained to a ground layer and area. These can still be extremely large, however, they are naturally sealed from other aquifers and environments, generally via an impermeable layer of clay, and should not blend with other aquifers. These bodies of water can still be accessed via a bore, although it is vital that they are sealed off during the drilling. As these bodies are enclosed, they can often produce very consistent production quantity and quality, usually at higher bore drilling costs, due to the depths and construction specifications required.
How much does it cost to drill a bore in Perth?

It depends heavily on what you're looking to achieve with the bore and where you're drilling it.

Costing is generally worked out on a per meter basis, which will include drilling the bore, inserting the PVC casing and air developing of the bore until the water is clear of any muds.

BD Water rates (incl. GST):

  • Standard Superficial Aquifer 100 mm Mud Drilling: $ 100 /metre
  • Perth Hills Fractures 100 mm Hybrid Mud and Hammer Drilling: $ 120 /metre
  • Confined Aquifer Bores (Mirrabooka & Leederville): $450 - 550 /metre

Depths can vary depending on the area:

  • Superficial Mud: 20 - 50 metres
  • Superficial Granite: 30 - 100 metres
  • Confined Aquifers: 60 - 200 metres

If your area is mapped by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, you can get a guide for what depth you should expect for the superficial aquifer. The water maps aren't always correct - we'll be happy to give you insights into drilling in your are that we gather from our drilling jobs in your area.

How do I get a bore drilled?

Speak to us.

BD Water has all your water bore needs covered. We can construct Level 1 (Standard Superficial Aquifer and Perth Hills Fractures) and Level 2 (Confined; Mirrabooka and Leederville Aquifers) bores.

Drilling contractors generally specialise in a particular type of drilling and area, where they’re comfortable they’ll get the best results. That’s why we have multiple different rig set-ups and operators to ensure we can get the very best result in every situation.

All our drillers are licensed and some of the very best in the business.

You can otherwise look to engage a drilling service yourself. Unfortunately the quality of work varies greatly in this industry which can easily result in an undesired outcome. Be careful going for the cheapest service provider, as this can often result in a disappointing outcome when corners are cut and quotes are purposely underpriced to win the job.

How deep do you have to drill?

This can vary heavily, mainly it depends on where you’re drilling and what aquifer you’re targeting.

As a general guide:

  • Standard Superficial Aquifer: 15 - 50 metres
  • Perth Hills Fractures: 30 - 100 metres
  • Mirrabooka and Leederville Aquifers: 60 - 200 metres



The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation offers a guide map with the expected depth of the water bodies present in specific locations. Some areas are unmapped, as there is not sufficient information to estimate the depth of the aquifers. In the Perth Hills, drilling is slightly different, as we are targetting a fracture between rock bodies, and not an aquifer, so this area is never mapped.

This map is only a guideline for the depth of the drilling. Our drillers take soil samples every 1-2 metres to ensure we drill to the optimal depth for the best producing bore, so the depth can only be exactly determined during the drilling.

Can I maintain my bore during the winter sprinkler ban?

Leaving your pump and bore inactive over the entirety of winter is a hazardous corrosion risk, particularly where ones water supply is high in salts or iron.

As per Department of Water and Environmental Regulation guidelines, listed below, it is legal to run your bore for one of your allotted watering days for a maximum station run time of 2 minutes. This is vital to keeping your pump and equipment in serviceable condition.

"Maintenance of garden bores is important and under the legislation a person does not commit an offence if the person operates a reticulation system using domestic bore water to the minimum extent necessary while the system is being installed, maintained, tested and repaired.

The minimum extent necessary is considered to involve limiting testing to a maximum of two minutes per station. Running your reticulation longer than this may be considered watering your garden.

The department recommends that wherever possible, maintenance, repairs and testing are carried out on one of your allocated September to May sprinkler roster days, where applicable and before 9 am or after 6 pm."

Can I prevent the staining from my bore?

Although Iron Bacteria can never be completely eliminated, as it lives naturally in many of the formations and aquifers, it can be regulated using a range of low impact, non-toxic chemicals to remove the bulk of bacterial substrate. This in turn reduces the amount of visible stain and odour.

Frequency of application is determined by the severity of the subterranean infection and subsequent staining. Existing staining can then be removed by a number of commercially available compounds such as X-Fe.

Other methods of stain prevention involve the design of your station spray coverage, minimising over-spray and infrastructure obstruction will reduce the impact of the staining while reducing the cost of stain removal considerably.

We offer decontamination and restoration services for problematic bores as well as treatment and filtration solutions.

Although iron bacteria can make water unsightly and cause an unpleasant taste and odour; there is currently no health risk associated with iron bacteria. There are also no active health concerns regarding iron presence in bore or drinking water.

Outside of visible staining, iron bacteria contributes to a great deal of system strain, such as pump corrosion, flow restriction, poor system operation and unpleasant working conditions for servicemen. If left to develop, it can lead to system failure, requiring costly repair or even pump replacement

How does a bore and irrigation system work?

A water pump draws water out from the water table or permeable materials in the soil and into the pipe of the bore, which then pushes water to the surface. It can be connected to a tank or directly tied in to the irrigation system.

The water table is a static level layer, usually at shallower depths, than can dry up, causing damage to the bore. This is why we drill past the water table and into the permeable materials at the bottom of the aquifers, to get a more consistent and better quality supply. The screens placed at the bottom of the bore construction filter the river sands to get the water into the bore.

Do I need to apply for any licences?

Most residential bores do not need a licence to be drilled and utilised.

If you are doing any of the following you'll most likely need a groundwater licence to take water:

  • Irrigating more than 1/2 an acre (2,000 square meters)
  • Using the bore for commercial activity (feedlots, agriculture, construction, etc)
  • Looking to utilise a non-superficial aquifer (bores generally deeper than 60 metres)

Another type of licence is a 26D licence to drill a borehole, which you need in case you are:

  • Using the bore for commercial activity
  • Looking to drill into a confined or semi-confined aquifer (bores generally deeper than 60 metres)

The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation offers a flow guide as to whether you require a license or not.

Irrigation Systems

When should I water?

You should set your system to water on your scheduled days.

The optimum watering time is in the early morning. This allows the water to reach the roots without being evaporated or blown away.

It’s also effective in preventing fungus or disease that is often caused by water sitting overnight on plants.

My pump has lost prime, now what?

If your pump hasn’t been run recently, a slow leak can cause it to lose prime. Every pump has a priming point.

However, if the leak seems more serious, call us and we can handle the repair.

Every time the system is running, there’s water bubbling up in other areas. What should I do?

It sounds like you may have a broken pipe. This is the most common cause for water leakages and bubbling up.

We can discuss with you this over the phone and repair any issues we find.

The controller looks fine, but it won’t start anything. What do I do?

Your first step should be to ensure the pause or rain function hasn’t been enabled.

You should also check the circuit breaker and override switch.

If you’re connected to mains water you, will need to check the isolating valves.

If this doesn’t solve your problem, we'll be happy to discuss the issue and run a diagnosis and any necessary repairs.

The controller screen is blank. What do I do?

The first step is to ensure it still has power. Plug something else into the same power source to be sure.

If your system is hard-wired, then you will need to check the metre box to ensure a circuit hasn’t tripped or a fuse blown.

If the problem persists, get in touch with us and we will send someone to assess the issue and service your reticulation controller.

How much will it cost to get a consultation and quote?

We offer both of those free. We will offer a quote once we have had time to go through a consultation with you, and in some cases view the property. This will ensure you get the most accurate quote possible. It also provides us with an opportunity to get to know you and your needs.

If the quote cannot be provided without testing your bore or system, we will discuss the costs of these services before doing anything, to ensure you are informed of any costs associated.

How do insurance claims work?

You will have to check with your insurance provider to see if you’re eligible to claim a replacement or repairs. Fusion, due to power surges or lightning strikes, is the most common reason for insurance claims related to water bore pumps in Perth.

We take care of insurance claims as any other job. Our goal is to provide the best possible service and fix your issue in an efficient and effective way. We charge you directly and provide a report so that you can take care of the insurance claim directly with your provider.

How do I know which pump to choose?

We can recommend a pump model and size for your bore and irrigation needs.

The right pump for your property depends on the size and depth of the bore, its flow and desired output, which depends on your irrigation system, its size, and the desired water usage, amongst other factors.

We only ever install Lowara and Groundfos units, as these have been the most reliable and quality pumps we have come across over the years. These pumps usually last 10+ years if well taken care of.

How much does it cost to install a pump?

Pump prices vary greatly depending on the bore specifications, including size, flow, and age; and on the irrigation system needs, namely the size of the irrigated area, type of irrigation and water output methods.

We only ever install Lowara and Groundfos units, as these have been the most reliable and quality pumps we have come across over the years. These pumps usually last 10+ years if well taken care of. For a residential property, the supply and installation of these pumps, including headwords and pipework, ranges from $ 1,500 to $ 2,500.

Ideally, the bore should be as close to the power source as possible, to reduce the cost of running electrical cable.

We always aim to do things as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible. We are happy to provide a free consultation and quote for your pump installation.

What are the implications of poor irrigation management?

Water is a valuable resource, and it doesn’t come cheap. If you have an efficient irrigation system, then you’re going to have a more attractive landscape, a more profitable farm, and a low water bill.

Water moves pesticides and fertilisers utilised in your crops into groundwater, which can impacts the safety of the groundwater coming from your bore. This can impact your health, your property and the environment.

Water is limited and the more of it that we use, the less there will be for other uses.

What type of maintenance will I have to carry out on my bore?

The most important factor is that the installation is handled properly. Maintenance costs can be significantly presented if the construction of the bore is done right in the first place. This is why we don't compromise on the quality of our bore drilling teams and processes. The model and size of pump also affect the health of the bore, so they need to be carefully selected and tailored to the bore and irrigation needs.

After the installation, you should keep an eye out for signs of damage or corrosion, and you can also test the water quality through samples.

How do you connect the new bore to my existing system?

We disconnect the existing system from the mains and simply change its water source to the new bore, connected by the piping system. The controller can be rewired to the new box. This is a simple turn-key solution that we carry out in most integration systems.

Why does my sprinkler system leak water even when the system is off?

If your sprinkler system or a single station continues to run or water pools at the heads while it is not supposed to operate, you could be experiencing one of these two likely scenarios:

  • A zone valve, main valve or both of them are not sealing - this is the most common reason for leakage is debris obstructing the valve membrane or diaphragm, which will require disassembly of the valve, rinse and flush of all components and re-assembly. If components are damaged they will likely require replacement.
  • Low Head Drainage - this will occur at the lowest point in the station layout and can be a sizeable issue if your station is quite large, as water will continue to drain until the pipework is empty. This can be amended with the installation of check valves on affected sprinklers or lateral station piping.
What hourly rate does BD Water charge for residential service work?

Unless otherwise stated prior, all residential service work is subject to our competitive $ 88 (incl. GST) hourly rate, with a proportional call-out fee for direct transit to site, capped at 30 minutes.

On-site inspections include the assessment of the property and any work that can be completed during the 1-hour booking, and these are quoted, as a standard, at $132 (incl. GST), including mobilisation of a tradesman within the Perth area.

What brand of irrigation products do you supply and recommend?

Although products used may vary across different tasks, our chosen product supplies are predominantly made up of the Hunter™ sprinkler range, recognised as the market leader in sprinkler innovation. Other reputable examples include, but are not limited to, Toro™, Philmac™ and Weathermatic™.

I don’t know how my system works, will you demonstrate it to me upon completion?

We will happily provide a complete explanation of the system’s entirety and run all interested parties through the various functions and settings of both the controller and stations subject to it.

A sheet with station information and our contact information will be present on the door of any controller we install for future follow up or query.

How much does the typical residential reticulation system cost to install?

Due to the varied nature of garden and lawn layouts, spray coverage must be custom designed to be effective. The range of parts used and nature of the install itself can also widely vary by individual need, leaving an onsite inspection the only effective method of cost estimation.

How much does a typical automated irrigation system cost to install?

Due to the varied nature of a properties watering distribution, spray coverage must be custom designed in order to be effective.

The range of parts used and nature of the install itself can also widely vary by individual needs, leaving an on-site inspection the only effective method of cost estimation.

Due to the increased watering demand posed by agriculture and livestock watering, a bore water supply will likely be necessary, along with a water licence if irrigating land equal or greater than 0.2 ha (1/2 an acre).These factors will likely play into the final cost of your system and must be considered before a design can be finalised and presented.

Why is irrigation water management important?

Optimising water use improves crop quality and reduces waste of water and energy. Further, water management will lead your system to remain sustainable, healthy and efficient for a longer lifespan.


What is the process and costs to draft an actionable quote for an irrigation system?

An actionable quote is gladly provided upon request, free of any charge.

A service professional will visit and assess the relevant site to:

  • Take water pressure measurements and pump specifications where applicable;
  • Plan potential access runs for necessary services, both pipe-working and electrical, including access for running services beneath hard surfaces;
  • Take head placement measurements and necessary part listings.

This information is then assessed and a quote is put together and sent through for assessment. If the on-site visit requires any work to be completed, likely if the tools are out, there might be a service charge, depending on the service provided. This is always discussed prior to any work being completed and charged.

Once finalised, any quote prices agreed upon will be honoured. In rare circumstances where situations could not be reasonably predicted, surcharges may be discussed, always prior to further action.

I don’t know where my valves are, and I don’t have an installation diagram. Is it difficult to locate them?

Valve location and wiring faults can be amongst the most challenging tasks in the residential sector.

How difficult it is very much depends on the age and installation standards of the system's original design.

Despite this, there are tools and technologies that our tradesmen are equipped and knowledgeable in, that streamline this process.

Valve location services are charged hourly due to the subjective nature of each system’s individual design.

How to select a controller and number of stations for my irrigation system?

There are a range of designs and makes of controllers across numerous reputable companies that can cater to your property's exact needs.

We select a controller that fits your irrigation system needs during design, with the necessary elements covered and options presented where budget allows.

The number of outlets a station can effectively provide, and station numbers required for the completed system are directly proportionate to the water supply available to the site, measured in Litres Per Minute (Lpm).

If a station exceeds the available water flow, the heads will not operate properly, resulting in coverage issues.

Do I need to be home to get a quote?

Although preferable, a quote can be drafted without your presence if there is access to the relevant sites entirety.

How does a bore and irrigation system work?

A water pump draws water out from the water table or permeable materials in the soil and into the pipe of the bore, which then pushes water to the surface. It can be connected to a tank or directly tied in to the irrigation system.

The water table is a static level layer, usually at shallower depths, than can dry up, causing damage to the bore. This is why we drill past the water table and into the permeable materials at the bottom of the aquifers, to get a more consistent and better quality supply. The screens placed at the bottom of the bore construction filter the river sands to get the water into the bore.