Geothermal Groundwater Licensing Guidelines

The Geothermal Groundwater Licensing Guidelines outline rural water corporations’ powers under the Water Act 1989 to approve section 51 take and use licences for ‘non-consumptive’ purposes and section 76 approvals to dispose water from geothermal uses and confirm that the rural Water Corporations may require reinjection conditions. To do this, the Guidelines provide:

  • criteria to indicate whether reinjection would be an appropriate condition for rural water corporations to require;
  • guidance on the application process for a geothermal reinjection scheme and an indicative risk assessment process for delegates; and
  • guidance that licensing of the resource may be undertaken on the basis of nett permitted extraction volume (i.e. amount extracted minus amount reinjected) if reinjection is required and it is clear that the purpose of this approach is to preserve the water resource and the Permissible Consumptive Volume (PCV – groundwater cap).

The Guidelines detail the application and risk-based assessment processes for rural water corporations to determine how much groundwater can be taken and how much water will need to be reinjected back into the source aquifer, where reinjection is proposed or required.

The Guidelines also provide a risk-based approach to “nett permitted extraction volume”’ licensing. The nett permitted extraction volume is the gross permitted extraction volume of water authorised to be taken and used under a section 51 licence minus the volume of water required to be reinjected back into the source aquifer and for which an approval under section 76 is required.

Where an application for a licence is made under section 51 and a PCV applies, the rural water corporation must ensure that the “nett permitted extraction volume” is not exceeded so that the objective of setting a PCV is achieved. 

The Guidelines can be downloaded here:

The Guidelines should be read in conjunction with the:

For further information please contact your rural water corporation or