Language switcher

Permits for the special use of water

Photo: E. Leiner

   Photo: Elina Leiner

Pursuant to § 8 of the Water Act, a permit for the special use of water should be obtained if:
1. water or ice is being drawn from a surface water body, if more than 30 m3/day is being drawn;
2. more than 5 m3 of groundwater is bring drawn per day;
3. mineral water is being drawn;
4. waste water or pollutants are being discharged into a receiving body of water, including groundwater;
5. a body of water is being dammed or hydroenergy is used;
6. a body of water with a surface area of one or more hectares is being created, eliminated, or dredged, or soil is being added to the bottom of such a body of water;
7. solid substances are submersed or disposed of in a body of water;
8. groundwater is amended, lowered, redirected, or reinjected;
9. water usage causes changes in the physical or chemical properties of the water or the biological properties of the body of water;
10. hazardous substances are involved in the regular servicing or repair of a ship, and hazardous substances or volatile solid bulk goods are regularly loaded onto or unloaded from a ship;
11. chemicals are used to maintain a body of water;
12. fish are being raised with an annual growth of more than one tonne, or water from a fish farm is being discharged into a receiving body of water;
13. water is being discharged into a receiving body of water with the goal of extracting mineral resources.

A permit for the special use of water is not required if:
1. a permit for the special use of water is not required to discharge personal household waste water or less than 5 m3/day of waste water into the soil, though this activity must comply with the requirements of the rules for discharging waste water into the soil established on the basis of § 24 of the Water Act.
2. discharging waste water into the soil outside of the boundaries of one’s property requires the written consent of the owner of the property receiving the waste water;
3. measures taken to maintain a body of surface water do not constitute a special use of water if chemicals are not used.
4. damming does not require a special use permit if the natural water level of the watercourse is raised less than one meter, unless the dam is being created on a body of water on the list established by the Nature Conservation Act, § 51(2), of those bodies requiring protection as a spawning ground or habitat of salmon, brown trout, sea trout, or grayling or section of that body of water.

As a rule, the permit is issued by the Environmental Board. Permits for the special use of water to build structures not permanently connected to the shore and submerged cable lines in the sea and Lake Peipsi and Lake Pihkva are issued only by the Ministry of the Environment.

What the holder of the permit should keep in mind
Directly applicable requirements related to the protection of aquatic environments arising from the law apply to the holder of a permit for the special use of water. This is regardless of whether or not these requirements appear on the permit.

To simplify the everyday work of the holder of a permit for the special use of water, the Environmental Board (KeA) has made up a list of more essential requirements that are directly applicable.

General obligations associated with the possession of a permit for the special use of water (Water Act § 21)
1. Before making special use of water:

1.1. If necessary, other required permits or registrations should be applied for (a permit for the special use of water does not give the right to carry out activities that fall under the Building Act or supplant other permits necessary to make special use of water).

2. While making special use of water, it is necessary:
2.1. To ensure that permit requirements are bring fulfilled and prescribed conditions are being observed.
2.2. To submit the fee declaration for the special use of water right or water pollution charge declaration to the Environmental Board by the 17th of the month following the end of the quarter (see Annex 2 and Annex 4 forms). The easiest way to submit a report is through the Environmental Board e-services portal at http://eteenus.keskkonnaamet.ee/. If you have any questions related to environmental fees, please contact KeA client support by phone at 662 5999 or by e-mail at klienditugi@keskkonnaamet.ee.
2.3. To submit the annual report on water use to the online database administered by the Environment Agency by 1 March (Water Act § 21(1) 6)). (The report must include the amount of water used, waste water amounts and the amount of pollutants discharged into a receiving body of water, economic indicators for water usage, and the composition and amount substances removed, moved to a different place, and dumped in the course of dredging the sea and dumping).
2.4. To notify the KeA at the first opportunity of any changes in the data of the permit holder (including that of the responsible person). If ownership and the permit for the special use of water are transferred and the new owner informs the KeA of this within one week at the latest of the change of ownership, the permit for the special use of water is valid in relation to the new owner for four months from the moment of the transfer(regulation of the Minister of the Environment no 18 § 22, 26 March 2002).
2.5. In the event of an accident, to take measures needed to avert, stop, or eliminate accidental pollution of the environment and immediately notify the Environmental Board, Environmental Inspectorate, and if necessary, the Rescue Board (Water Act § 21(1) 2)).
2.6. In necessary, to apply in a timely manner for a change in the permit (a change in technology/process, etc.) or a new permit for the special use of water, if activities are to continue. It must be considered that most changes presume the carrying out of public proceedings, and consequently, change proceedings can take time, the amount of time depending specifically on the planned changes.
Proceedings for a new permit for the special use of water might last up to three months starting from the date of the acceptance of a properly completed application (Water Act § 9(7)), and consequently, it is reasonable to submit application materials for the new permit for the special use of water to the issuer of the permit in a timely manner. A permit for the special use of water, which has already expired can no longer be extended. The period of validity of a permit for the special use of water can only be extended during the proceedings for a new permit for the special use of water (regulation of the Minister of the Environment no 18 § 17 (1), 26 March 2002) if the application for the extension and application materials for the new permit for the special use of water have been submitted at the same time. The named documents must be submitted within a reasonable time period, before the expiry of the existing permit for the special use of water, so that the KeA would be able carry out the procedural acts connected with the extending of the period of validity of the permit for the special use of water.
2.7. If the requirements specified in the permit for the special use of water are not being followed, the issuer of the permit retains the right to declare the permit for the special use of water invalid.

3. When a permit for the special use of water is terminated or expires:
3.1. If you decide to terminate the activities, which were the basis for a permit for the special use of water before the permit’s expiry, you must inform the KeA of this at the first opportunity. The Environmental Board will then declare the permit for the special use of water invalid (Administrative Procedure Act § 65(3)), since if the permit were to remain valid, all obligations entailed by the permit would also remain in effect.
3.2. If a permit for the special use of water ends in the middle of a quarter, you have an obligation to submit the fee declaration for the special use of water right and/or water pollution charge declaration for the period the permit was still valid. You have an opportunity to submit the declarations electronically in the month following the quarter. If you wish, however, to fulfil these obligations immediately, you can submit the declarations in paper form.
3.3. If the permit for the special use of water ends before the period for the submission of the annual report on water use (an account is given of the previous year, retrospectively), you have an obligation to submit the annual report on water use for the period the permit was still valid. You have an opportunity to submit the annual report electronically in the following year. If you wish, however, to fulfil these obligations immediately, you can submit the annual report on water use to the Environmental Board in paper form.

Obtaining a permit for the special use of water
For the special use of water, the user must hold a permit, and in case the land belongs to someone else, the user must also have the landowner’s consent. A landowner’s consent is not required to use land located under a body of water belonging to the state or which is considered to belong to the state in accordance with the Land Reform Act § 31(2).

The special use of water right arises on the basis of a non-fixed term permit for the special use of water, except when:
1) the application for the permit is for a fixed term.
2) the special use of water is one-time. In this case, the permit for the special use of water is issued for the duration of the activity.
3) groundwater is taken from an approved groundwater supply. In this case, the permit for the special use of water is not issued for longer than the period for which the groundwater supply has been approved.
4) from the standpoint of water protection, other reasoned cases occur. In this case, the issuer of the permit decides the duration period of the permit for the special use of water.
5) the permit for the special use of water is connected with some other fixed term administrative act or contract for use. In this case, the permit for the special use of water is not issued for longer than the term of the concluded administrative act or contract for use.

Provisions regulating open proceedings are applied to proceedings on the application for a permit for the special use of water and its issuance, taking into account the specifics of the Water Act. The duration of proceedings on the issuing of a permit for the special use of water is three months from the date of acceptance of a properly completed application for the permit.

To obtain a permit, a free-form application should be submitted together with the materials required when applying for a permit for the special use of water listed in the regulation of the Minister of the Environment, “Rules for the issuing, changing, and declaring invalid of a permit for the special use of water or temporary permit for the special use of water, a list of materials needed to apply for a permit, and permit forms” § 5 and depending on the nature of the planned activity, the materials required in paragraphs 6-12.

An application for a permit for the special use of water is denied if:
● the water supply is not sufficient or the special use of water poses a direct risk to human health or the environment;
● the condition of the receiving body of water or aquifer will be degraded to the extent that it will no longer be fit for use;
● the planned activity is not in accordance with the law;
● inaccurate data was submitted in the application for the permit.

A permit for the special use of water is changed if:
● the name or business name, personal identification code or company registry code, address or contact information of the holder of the permit for the special use of water or the name of the responsible person has changed;
● the legal provisions, which are the basis for the requirements established by the permit for the special use of water have changed, and public interest in the amendment of the permit for the special use of water outweighs the individual’s reliance;
● the environmental impact of the activities indicated on the permit for the special use of water may cause adverse changes in the environment, and therefore, requirements on the permit for the special use of water must be changed;
● other measures than those indicated on the permit for the special use of water must be taken to avoid accidents;
● the holder of the permit for the special use of water has submitted a reasoned request to change it;
● the technology, equipment or chemical being used for the special use of water has significantly changed, and therefore, requirements on the permit for the special use of water must be changed;
● the pollution load on the waste water collection area, waste water treatment plant, or other pollution source has changed;
A permit for the special use of water may be changed if public interest in its change outweighs the individual’s reliance.

The Environmental Board will declare a permit for the special use of water invalid if:
● the permit holder is not fulfilling the requirements indicated on the special use permit;
● the activities of the permit holder give cause for denying the issuance of the permit for the special use of water.
 


About Estonia

Get closer acquainted with Estonia, coming here for a visit, studies, business or investments!

Estonian Official Gateway

Get closer acquainted with Estonia and see what are the most important facts and main areas of activity here.

Digital Society

Estonia has
transformed itself into
one of Europe’s business success stories of the last decade, mainly thanks to the sophisticated e-solutions available here.

Follow our updates in social media