In the past we would have said: find a good wandmaker in the village, and he will trace the water vein. Then you dig a well and enjoy crystal clear water.
The profession of a wandmaker, also known as a radiesthesiologist, functioned in ancient times, and the people who practiced it enjoyed respect and reverence. According to modern research, claims related to radiesthesia are not considered scientific, but nevertheless, the method of searching for groundwater and underground water with a wand has repeatedly shown that this method has sometimes been effective.
In this article we will not give instructions on where to look for water and by what means. Instead, we will suggest what documents you need to submit and what procedures you need to implement in order to obtain permission to extract water for your purposes.
First, water abstraction is categorized as a water service, for which a fee may (but need not) be charged.
Secondly, we will indicate to whom and when you should go to get permission to extract surface or groundwater. Or is it not necessary at all?
Third, a horse’s chance for anyone who catches on to the current division of waters. Inland flowing waters, inland standing waters, inland standing waters in lakes not directly related to surface flowing waters, bodies of water, artificial bodies of water….
But it can also be simpler: surface and underground. We will focus on this division, because it determines the number of documents necessary to obtain for water abstraction.
When is water abstraction free?
The legislator introduced the principle of general use of surface water for personal, household or agricultural needs without the use of special facilities. He also pointed to the landowner’s right to the ordinary use of groundwater located on his land.
When does water abstraction not require any documents?
In both of these cases, water abstraction does not require any water rights approvals. The only condition is that it should not exceed an annual average of 5m3 per day.
In which cases you should go to the office and obtain the required approvals and documents
These issues are regulated in detail by the Water Law. If you want to draw surface water or groundwater at a rate of more than 5m3 per day (annual average) or drill a well deeper than 30 meters, a water permit is required.
Well construction and site selection
For groundwater extraction, it is necessary to have a well. If it doesn’t already exist on the plot, but you want to dig it up, you don’t need any water consents to act, provided the intake is no deeper than 30 meters.
However, it should be remembered that a well cannot be built anywhere. Maintain the required distances from buildings and other objects. The exact guidelines are set forth in the regulations of the Minister of Infrastructure on the technical conditions to be met by buildings and their location. For example, the distance of a well that supplies water for human consumption should be at least 5 meters from the border of the plot and a minimum of 7.5 meters from a roadside ditch. To eliminate the risk of water contamination, the intake must be at least 15 meters from livestock buildings, septic tanks or compost.
Construction of surface intake and site selection
When deciding to build a surface water intake, it is first of all necessary to determine the size of the planned intake and the inviolable flow you must leave at the site where you plan to invest. Limitations resulting from the need to maintain the size of the inviolable flow and the method of reading its value will be specified in the water permit. This is one of the most important pieces of information on the basis of which the permitting authority will determine whether abstraction is possible at the selected site and whether sufficient water is provided.
Water abstraction under a water permit
In order to obtain a permit, you need to go to the relevant unit of the Polish Water Authority and submit the documents along with a water law report. The application should be accompanied by an extract from the local zoning plan and a decision on environmental conditions, if required. And it will be, if groundwater abstraction is more than 10m3 per hour. You can find a summary of the projects for which you need to obtain a deisition at Council of Ministers regulation of September 10, 2019. on projects likely to have a significant impact on the environment. Another attachment to the application is an assessment related to the water law assessment, which is particularly important if the investment may affect the possibility of achieving environmental goals. Intake requiring a water rights assessment applies to, among other things. surface water intake of at least 2.5 millionm3 per year. A list of projects for which you must obtain such an assessment can be found in the Regulation of the Minister of Maritime Affairs and Inland Navigation dated August 27, 2019. On the types of investments and activities that require a water law assessment.
If you are applying for a permit related to groundwater extraction, you must also include hydrogeological documentation, if required. For wells with a depth of more than 30 m, it is necessary to develop a geological work project. This issue, in turn, is regulated by the provisions of the Geological and Mining Law, which requires that geological work, and this is the digging of a well with a depth of more than 30 meters, be carried out on the basis of an approved geological work project. Work on the design and drilling of wells can only be carried out by qualified persons, namely geologists.
The project of geological works should be submitted to the geological administration authority, (starost) for approval. It also requires the opinion of the mayor (mayor, city president) before signing. If the drilling takes place in a mining area or if the planned depth of the well exceeds 100 m, in addition, the regulations on the operation of a mining plant also apply.
Once the project is approved, at least 14 days before drilling the well, the geological administration and the mayor must be informed. Geological work associated with the drilling of a well must be documented in the form of hydrogeological documentation, which is subject to approval by the geological administration. This document is a necessary attachment to the application for a water permit for groundwater extraction.
If you plan to draw less than 5m3 of water per day, for your own needs, most likely all these procedures will become unnecessary. Nevertheless, being aware of your legal obligations can make your life easier. Ignorantia legis non excusat (Ignorance of the law is not an excuse), and the fee for not having a permit, for what the permit requires, is 500% of the variable fee rate for groundwater or surface water extraction.