Water law; application for a permit

An official permit is required for any impact on a water body that is not only of completely minor importance.


Society's demands on water are diverse and conflictual. Therefore, all human impacts on surface and underground water must be purposefully regulated and monitored. This is the task of the water laws and their enforcement. Water law authorities are the district administrative authorities (district offices, independent cities and individual district municipalities to a limited extent).

The water law is composed of legal norms of the European Community, legal norms enacted by the Federal Government and legal norms enacted by the Free State of Bavaria. For each impact on a water body, which is not only of completely subordinate importance, you need an official permission. In particular, land ownership does not in principle entitle you to use a water body etc. (§ 4 para. 3 WHG). The link below will take you to an Internet site where you will find an overview of the most important water law procedures and their legal treatment.

There are several types of water law permits:

  • A permit or authorization is required to use a body of water, e.g. if you want to discharge water from a stream, impound a body of water or discharge substances (Section 9 WHG).
  • The construction, removal or substantial alteration of a water body or its banks requires a so-called plan approval or plan permit (§ 68 WHG).
  • Structural installations in water bodies or at a distance of less than 60 m from a water body generally require a permit according to § 36 WHG, Art. 20 BayWG in the case of larger water bodies, if a building permit is not already required.

A permit is not required, for example, for:

  • the abstraction of groundwater in small quantities for the purposes of agriculture, forestry and horticulture for the preservation of soil fertility (§ 46 para. 3 WHG, Art. 29 BayWG)
  • Activities that fall under the so-called public use of surface waters (§ 25 WHG, Art. 18 BayWG; among other things, possible for bathing, watering, ice sports ...)
  • some impacts on certain waters, as far as they are of minor importance from a water management point of view (cf. Art. 1 para. 2 BayWG; e.g. in the case of an artificial pond that is not connected to other waters)

In principle, the district administrative authority is responsible for granting a permit, i.e. the district office for the area of the district or the independent city for its urban area. In certain cases, larger municipalities belonging to the district may also be responsible.


Administrative court proceedings; information

administrative claim

Links to more information


Responsible for editing:Bayerisches Staatsministerium für Umwelt und Verbraucherschutz

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