Groundwater extraction: the rules for start-up, operation and shut-down

Drying or wetting soil, changing soil composition, soil subsidence, shortage of drinking water, etc.; any form of groundwater extraction can potentially have a short and/or long term impact on the environment. The government has therefore imposed strict rules on this. An overview of the rules for the start-up, operation and shut-down of groundwater extraction.

Starting up

  • Notification and permit requirement: notifying the authorities of an intention to extract groundwater is important to determine which levy you have to pay, whether you need a permit, and whether a representative from an authoritative body should visit you.
  • Boring: you are obliged to use a recognised company if you intend to use a bore to extract groundwater. You can only do this if you have been granted a permit. After the boring operation has been completed, you must provide a report to the government. You will receive the report from the company that carried out the boring operation. This report will describe the layers of soil that were bored through.
  • Installation of a flow meter: every groundwater extraction must have a flow meter. If you don't have one, you are pumping illegally.
  • Groundwater analysis: not all groundwater is suitable for every application. You can request a recognised lab (for example, Eurofins, Lovap, etc.) to carry out an analysis on the water if the groundwater is to be used for consumption, for example.


  • The basic rule: wasting groundwater is out of the question. Furthermore, the groundwater supply and the soil must not be polluted.
  • Registration and reporting: you must record meter readings from your flow meter in a register. Depending on the region, this must either be carried out monthly, annually or according to the specifications of your permit. You must report the meter reading to the competent authority at least once a year.
  • Annual charge: the amount you pay depends on the volume of groundwater pumped up (which can be read from the flow meter) and the amount of waste water you discharge.
  • Notification of changes: do you plan to increase or decrease the amount of groundwater you intend to pump up? Do you plan to change or relocate an installation or your flow meter? You must always report changes to the competent governmental authority. If necessary, they will adjust your permit.


  • Notification obligation: even if you fill in your groundwater well, you must report this to the competent authorities. There is a chance they will send a representative.
  • Shutting down groundwater extraction: a specialised drilling company, recognized by Vlarel, will remove the installation and fill the groundwater well with impermeable slurry.
  • Closing permit: the groundwater extraction will be removed from your permit, or the permit will be withdrawn.

You can go to the government website appropriate for your area for more information

The specific interpretation of the above rules for groundwater extraction differs from region to region. You can read more about the latest regulations on the website of these authorities:

Do you need help starting up, operating or shutting down your groundwater extraction?

Our environmental advisers will be happy to help. Contact us via or +32 11 26 99 92.