Licence Trading

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How it works

Buyers/Sellers list the water licence interest via the form
We advertise your listing via multiple platforms
Pricing is then negotiated between the seller & buyer(s)
The purchase price is then placed in escrow pending Department of Water approval
All required paperwork is filed by BD Water on behalf of both the seller & buyer(s)
Once the trade is approved the funds are released to the seller and the licence is transferred
Thank you.

We have received your water brokering request.
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Frequently asked questions

Do I need a water licence

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

If you are doing any of the following however you'll most likely need a license:

  • Irrigating more than 1/2 an acre (2000 square meters)
  • Using the bore for commercial requirements (feedlots, construction purposes, etc)
  • Looking to utilise a non-superficial or confined aquifer (bore depths generally need to exceed 60m for this to be a consideration)

Generally a small residential bore does not require licensing, but irrigating large amounts of area or some form of commercial agriculture operation will.

The Department of Water offer a flow guide as to whether you require a license or not:

How much does it cost to drill a bore

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 (inc gst):

  • Superficial Standard 100mm Mud Drilling (most common for residential bores): $110/m
  • Superficial Granite 100mm Hammer Drilling (generally required in the hills): $120/m
  • Confined Aquifer Bores (Mirrabooka & Leederville): $450-550/m

Depths can vary depending on the area:

  • Superficial Mud: 15-50m
  • Superficial Granite: 30-100m
  • Confined Aquifers: 60-200m

If your area is mapped by the Department of Water then you can get a guide for what depth you should expect here:

Can I get a new licence/allocation 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 purchase it off someone else.

Can I trade licenses with anyone

Not with anyone, firstly you must be trading within the same aquifer. For the confined aquifers Mirrabooka and Leederville your range for trading isn’t very area restricted so long as you’re trading into the same confined aquifer.

For superficial aquifers, not only must you be trading in the same aquifer but also the same sub-aquifer. For example the Swan Valley area is divided into 4 sub-aquifers of the swan – superficial aquifer, North, East, South & Central. Each of the sub-aquifers can only trade within themselves for superficial water.

You can see more about the different aquifers via our ‘What is an Aquifer?’ question on this page.

You can check what aquifer & sub-aquifer you’re currently in or have available to you via this Department of Water link:

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) Any unconfined aquifer is one that naturally is able transfer water with the environment around it such as a river, lake or the ground surface above. These are generally closer to the surface with a common example being superficial water. Due to there unconfined nature these types of aquifers are readily accessed and can vary greatly in production quantity and quality.

Confined Aquifers (eg. Leederville) A confined aquifer is separated and contained to an area, these can still be extremely large however they are naturally sealed from other aquifers and environments, generally via an impermeable layer of clay. These bodies of water can still be accessed via a bore however it is vital they are sealed off during drilling to ensure they are separated from other bodies of water which would cause blending of the aquifers. As these bodies are sealed off they can often produce very consistent production quantity and quality however bore drilling costs can be high due to the depths and construction specifications required.

What is superficial water

Superficial water is the natural water found immediate below the ground and generally what you find within the first 0-50m 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.

You don’t need a licence to access this aquifer so long as you’re only using it for domestic purposes (irrigating less than half an acre). The production quantity and quality can vary heavily due to its unconfined nature.

How do I buy/sell a licence

Traditionally you’ll need to find a buyer/seller in the same area you’re allowed to trade with and offer the buy/sell part or their full licence. You then have to both fill out Form 4T ‘Application for Transfer of Water Entitlement or Transfer of Water Licence’ from the Department of Water (found here: and submit it.

The trade will then go through due diligence with the Department of Water which can take multiple months before approved.

The process will look at the following:

  • ‍Are you seeking to trade within your designated trade area
  • ‍What the allocation is currently used for
  • ‍Is the allocation currently being fully utilized
  • ‍What the new intent is for the allocation
  • If there are any environment incumbents
  • Does the new owner of the allocation have the infrastructure in place to utilize the allocation or the financial capability to construct it    

Alternatively, you can fill out the form above and let us find your buyer/seller, we handle all the paperwork and interface on your behalf with the Department of Water!

Water licensing made simple.

How do I get a bore drilled

Speak to us!

BD Water have all your water bore needs covered, we can construct Level 1 (superficial) and Level 2 (Confined; Mirrabooka & Leederville) bores.

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.

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

Be careful going for the cheapest service provider as this can often result in a disappointing outcome when corners are cut. All our drillers are licensed and some of the very best in the business.

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:

  • Superficial Mud (common): 15-50m
  • Superficial Granite (hills): 30-100m
  • Confined Aquifers: 60-200m      

The Department of Water offers a guide if your area has been mapped via the following link: however this is only and you never know exactly until you drill.

Do you represent the Department of Water

No, we’re a private business and do not represent the Department of Water. All information we provide is our own interpretation of their documentation and if unsure please confirm with the Department of Water directly.

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

Not 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 within 30 days of settling that there has been a change in ownership of the allocation.

If you do not notify them you will risk losing the allocation, to notify you must apply for a Transfer via Form 4T (found here:

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. 

Why is the Department of Water looking to take/reclaim licenses

Simply put, we’re taking more water out of the ground then what’s going back in. This results in water levels dropping as the amount of water in the ground below decreases. A licence or allocation is one of the ways the amount of water being abstracted is monitored and managed, decreasing the amount of allocations will eventually result in a lower abstraction rate.

Over the last 30 years rainfall rates per year have been decreasing (how our aquifers are replenished) and bore abstraction rates have increased. The Department of Water has been tasked with bringing this back into balance by 2030 which is a huge task and will require further restrictions of water use to do so.