Groundwater is increasingly seen as an alternative or additional source of supply to surface water. It has been effectively used to supplement supplies in severely drought-affected regions of Victoria and is an excellent short-term measure.
Groundwater, like surface water, is vulnerable to drought and climate change and so the allocation of this resource is carefully managed and monitored.
The Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) is responsible for monitoring and managing groundwater in Victoria on behalf of the Minister for Water. It is also responsible for the oversight of all water licensing in Victoria. Individual licences for groundwater use are issued by rural water corporations
The Victorian water entitlement framework provides the basis for the way both groundwater and surface water are allocated and licensed.
DEPI manages the State Observation Bore Network (SOBN) which monitors groundwater levels and quality at approximately 2500 sites throughout the State. The data generated through regular monitoring provides essential information for the sustainable management of groundwater resources into the future.
For more information on the SOBN visit the Water Measurement Information System website.
In addition to monitoring data gathered via the SOBN, groundwater information is held in relation to approximately 135,000 boreholes throughout the state on Victorian Water Resources Data Warehouse. The warehouse contains data from a wide variety of sources and includes:
- Bore location reports are available for all regularly monitored SOBN sites. These reports include bore headworks, coordinates, maps, photos, access hazards and conditions.
- SOBN bore drillers' reports outline bore details including depth, yield, geological conditions, and borecasing.
- Pumping test database
- Groundwater age database
- Groundwater snapshot (Periodic snapshot sampling is also conducted by DEPI to establish a picture of the groundwater resource at a given point in time.)
- Groundwater technical reports
- Melbourne groundwater directory
This information has been generated over time and is primarily of interest to individuals and organisations involved in groundwater management and investigations, but is also a useful resource for all environmental studies where groundwater or catchment condition is a focus.
A copy of the data stored within the data warehouse is available on request from DEPI: email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information visit the Victorian Water Register website.
To generate a report summarising the aquifers and groundwater salinity in any Victorian location visit the Groundwater Resource Report.
SOBN Third Party Access
The primary purpose of the SOBN is to collect groundwater data for observational purposes.
DEPI sometimes receives requests for access to these bores for other reasons including investigation, research and data collection.
Requests for access SOBN bores are referred to as Third Party Access requests and include proposed access to bores that are not covered under the current monitoring contract. These third party access requests are considered by DEPI in accordance the Water Act 1989.
Groundwater, like surface water, is allocated under the Water Act 1989. A person wishing to drill for groundwater is required to apply to the relevant rural water corporation for a bore construction licence. Licences are issued with conditions to ensure that:
- the bore is constructed to protect the groundwater resource
- information about the bore construction and the aquifers drilled into are captured, and available for future reference
- the bore is located to minimise extraction interference with other users or the environment.
The Water Act requires that all persons who wish to extract groundwater (except domestic and stock users) apply for a groundwater licence.
Groundwater licences are issued to protect the rights of licence holders; ensure that water is shared amongst users; and to ensure that environmental requirements are protected. Additional information on "take and use licenses" is available on the Victorian Water Register.
Groundwater beneficial uses
The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has established a groundwater protection policy for Victoria – the State Environment Protection Policy (Groundwaters of Victoria). This policy aims to recognise the highest value of the groundwater resource in all parts of the environment and to protect its highest Beneficial Use, including both current and potential future uses.
For more information visit the website of your local water corporation.