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Existing lawful water use was a mechanism to bridge the gap between the old legislation and the new National Water Act (NWA) [PDF - 239 KB]. It was only intended as an interim measure to allow water use to continue until it can be converted to a licence.

An existing lawful water use is a water use that lawfully took place in the period two years before the commencement of the NWA. This allowed water use that lawfully took place to continue until such time as it can be converted into a licence. However, if you were not using water in the two years before the NWA was promulgated, but there was good reason why not, you can apply to have your water use declared as an existing water use. You can also apply to have the extent of your existing lawful water use verified at any stage, or the Department can ask you to apply for this verification. This process is undertaken in two stages namely

  • Validation - confirms how much water you were using in the two years prior to the promulgation of the NWA [PDF - 239 KB], and whether this was correctly registered.
  • Verification - confirms if the water use in that period was lawful. The Department use a variety of techniques to do this including satellite and aerial photography, irrigation water use models, and interviews with the water users.



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