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IQ Academy Lunch & Learn Webinar | Water Abstraction: Understanding the Regulations | January 2018

[fa icon="calendar"] Feb 1, 2018 11:13:43 AM / by Dave Tebbutt


We were pleased to welcome James Dodds of Envireau Water to present the first in our compelling new series of ‘Lunch and Learn’ webinars. James provided us with an insight into the transitional arrangements and new requirements for abstraction licensing, which came into effect 1st January 2018.

James has been actively involved in the minerals sector within the UK for 20 years and has been an IQ member since 1994. He is a nationally recognised expert in water management and water resources hydrogeology, particularly within the minerals, agricultural/horticultural and water bottling sectors, as well as the onshore oil and gas sector, and has a reputation for his tenacity with regulatory systems. 

During the bitesize session we covered off:

  • The history,
  • Regulations
  • Licence types
  • Transition arrangements & new activities
  • The application process
  • Evidence

If you missed out you can catch up on a recording of the session below or view a copy of the slides here.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the effect on Scotland with regards to dewatering licensing?

None. The regulations only apply to England and Wales

We balance two lagoons, if I have a full licence, do I need a transfer licence too?

The issue is where the water comes from, whether the lagoons are connected to groundwater, where the water goes, and how it is used. Draw the process/flow diagram.


What is the definition of De-watering? For example, we have a quarry that we pump ground water and rainfall to a EA recognised discharge point. We do not use the water in any way.

Dewatering is the removal of water to keep the excavation dry or workable. The water maybe groundwater or rainfall, or more likely both. If you are pumping mainly groundwater, you need a transfer licence.


How do we know if the waterbody where dewatering is taking place has 'Actual Serious Damage'?

The Environment Agency has produced a list, which can be accessed by members of the MPA or by contacting the Environment Agency directly.


Does an entirely self-contained lagoon system still require an abstraction permit?

No, providing this is sealed from groundwater. The water that is being abstracted to fill the lagoon will need a licence.


A second site had a temporary abstraction licence to draw an agreed volume of water from a canal system, and paid for the water, which was then stored. will we be required to pay again for the water we've already paid for?

No, abstraction from the canal is controlled by the canal owner. As long as the water is/was stored in a lagoon isolated from groundwater, then a licence from the Environment Agency is not required.


RMX concrete plants generally use mains water to produce the Concrete and are heavy users of this resource. What are the options considerations and drawbacks from using the alternative sources?

River abstraction

Water quality & reliability in the river flow.

Borehole abstraction

Available yield from the aquifer, and licensing restrictions.     

Lagoon abstraction

It is the source of the water that is filling the lagoon, that is the issue.

Capture from yard run off

Excellent source, but probably only part of the solution.

Recycled water from the process

As above.


Are there reasonable methods that can distinguish the usage of each at a plant level that is acceptable to the regulators?

This would be site specific, but an options review would identify the best method on any particular site.


Are there any other abstraction options?

There are no additional options available, that come to mind.


There are huge resources of bunter sandstone in the UK that can be used as a concrete sand as long as it is washed to remove the silt. However, there are drawbacks insofar as the costs of water in terms of both a financial and environmental impact are high. How can process water be recycled according to the regulations?

All mineral washing water is recirculated/recycled, usually via a settlement lagoon. The critical issue is settlement lagoon design and operation to maximise recovery. If further treatment is required, then methods are available. The issue is the cost/benefit analysis. From a regulatory point of view the issue is the source and quantity of the make-up water.


If you have multiple lakes on a site and you move water from one lake to another on the same site do you still need a licence? Or if there are pipes between lakes with 'tidal flaps' do they require a licence?

The issue is whether the lakes are sealed or open to groundwater. If they are open to groundwater then the transfer licence needs to cover all the lake transfers. The pipes and ‘tidal flaps’ don’t make a difference.

Find out more and register for our upcoming webinars at

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Dave Tebbutt

Written by Dave Tebbutt