About Waterwell Driller Licensing

Australian National Water Well Drillers Licensing System

In Australia, people who drill wells or bores to access water from underground must be licensed.

The aim of licensing drillers or people who carry out bore construction, abandonment or any other work on an existing bore is to ensure:

  • the protection of the groundwater resource from contamination, deterioration and undue completion
  • the long term economic production of groundwater of the best possible quality

Why have a Licensing System?

In the past, the licensing of Water Well drillers was very fragmented. Different structures and procedures were developed and used by each State or Territory, creating problems for both drillers and licensing authorities. Each state and territory may have its own legal framework to govern groundwater use and access, but technical requirements and minimum bore construction requirements are nationally agreed. The introduction of national uniformity of licensing in 1990 means that the technical knowledge and skills of a driller licensed in one State or Territory are now being recognised nationally.

Licence Classifications

Under the system now, drillers licences are classified according to the type of aquifers and are endorsed with the drilling methods that may be used. This ensures the skills, knowledge and experience of a driller will match the groundwater protection requirements. The classifications are:

Class 1: restricted to drilling operations in single non-flowing aquifer systems ie. water table aquifers.
Class 2: in addition to operating in Class 1 conditions, permits drilling operations in multiple on-flowing aquifer systems i.e. confined aquifers.
Class 3: in addition to operating in Class 1 & 2 conditions, permits drilling operations in flowing aquifer systems i.e. artesian aquifers.

The drilling method endorsements are: Non-drilling rig, Cable Tool, Auger, Rotary Air, Rotary Mud and Sonic Drilling.

Obtaining a Licence 

In order to get a Water Well Drillers Licence, there are 3 components all requiring assessment:

  • Theoretical knowledge assessed by written examination
  • Experience and skills, assessed orally by the relevant State/Territory Drillers Licensing Board
  • Demonstration of knowledge of the Water Act in the relevant State or Territory, assessed by examination.

The results of the first two components are nationally recognised. Individual State/Territory Licensing Committees may also impose various restrictions to licences, depending on the level of skills/abilities of the individual.

Before being considered for a licence, a person must gain a specified minimum amount of practical experience for the class of licence being applied for. Some states require evidence of formal training.

To read about the Process of application Click here.