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Information about water abstraction or impoundment licensing

Water abstraction and impoundment licensing


Natural Resources Wales is responsible for the management and effective use of water in Wales to balance the needs of people and the natural environment. This is done by issuing water abstraction and impoundment licences.

Do you need a licence?

You are likely to need to apply for a licence if you want to impound water in any watercourse or take more than 20 cubic metres (4,000 gallons) of water per day from a:

  • river or stream
  • reservoir, lake or pond
  • canal
  • spring
  • underground source
  • dock, channel, creek, bay, estuary or arm of the sea

Why we have licences

Without licences, persistent over-abstraction or works that obstruct or impede the flow of water in a watercourse could lead to:

  • shortages in water supply
  • increased river pollution by reducing dilution of pollutants
  • damage to ecology and habitats
  • the loss of rivers for our recreation and enjoyment

By licensing, we can control the level of abstraction to protect water supplies and the environment.

What we do

It is our responsibility to:

  • assess every application for potential impacts
  • have regard to our aims and legal duties
  • listen to members of the public who may be affected by the proposals

Before you apply

Complete a pre-application enquiry form. This will give our staff a good idea of what your proposal is for before you apply for a formal application – this can save you time and give you an indication of how successful your application is likely to be.

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