Taking and using water
Water for consumptive use in Victoria is taken from reservoirs, streams and aquifers under entitlements issued by the Victorian Government and authorised under the Water Act 1989 (Vic).
Generally water is issued to individual users by the relevant water corporation via a water share or a licence. In addition to the licences that are formally issued, the Act enables users to take water for domestic and stock purposes from a range of surface water and groundwater sources without a licence. These stock and domestic rights are defined in Section 8 of the Act.
Most water users are responsible and abide by the conditions of their water license. However, each year a small number of users break the law when they take and use rural water from an aquifer, dam, stream, river, creek or irrigation channel.
They may take water without an entitlement or licence, they may build an illegal bore or dam, or they might interfere with a water meter. Sometimes these offences are deliberate, and sometimes they happen because people do not know the law.
The Water Compliance Project is underway in Victoria helping rural water users understand their rights and obligations for taking and using water.
Read more about the Water Act 1989.
Water Compliance Project
The Water Compliance Project is Victoria's implementation of the National Framework for Compliance and Enforcement of water resource management systems. To find out more about the Framework visit the Commonwealth Department of the Environment website.
The project promotes common water laws and compliance mechanisms across Australia and is funded by the Australian Government's National Framework for Compliance and Enforcement Systems for Water Resource Management Program.
The key elements of the project include more information about water take and use obligations and an increase in monitoring activities.
There are six water corporations that provide non-urban water supplies to customers who are involved in this project and can advise water users about their rights and responsibilities:
- Grampians Wimmera Mallee Water*
- Goulburn-Murray Water
- Southern Rural Water
- Lower Murray Water*
- Melbourne Water
- Coliban Water*
*only applies to rural customers
Check your rights and obligations
If you are in one of these regions and take and use water from sources such as a dam, bore, stream, river, creek, or irrigation channel, you should check your water entitlement (license) to make sure you understand your compliance obligations.
If you are unsure of your licence conditions, want to check your rights and obligations in relation to water use, or want to find out if you need a licence, you should contact your water corporation. Information is also available from the Victorian Water Register.
Statistics of offences under the Water Act 1989
The annual statistical compliance report provides details relating to water compliance activities and actions undertaken in Victoria by the above water corporations.