The Department of Environment and Primary Industries is implementing a groundwater management framework comprising groundwater basins, catchments and management units.
The map below shows the groundwater management framework.
A groundwater basin comprises one or more groundwater catchments within a geological basin. The extent of the basin may extend off-shore or across State boundaries.
In some cases a basin may be broken into one or more sub-basins to reflect administrative management boundaries.
A groundwater catchment is an area containing a connected groundwater resource(s), bringing together the input (recharge) areas, use (demand) areas and discharge areas.
Groundwater management units represent Water Supply Protection Areas and Groundwater Management Areas where specific plans are applied.
Where a cap or Permissible Consumptive Volume (PCV) is used for management, the PCV is declared by the Minister.
Local Management Plans
Rural Water corporations on behalf of the Minister, manage the groundwater resources and licence use in accordance with statutory management plans or local management plans. Local management plans are prepared in accordance with the following guidelines approved by the Minister:
An ongoing program of water management reform is looking at incorporating smaller GMUs into larger groundwater catchments for management, whilst retaining local rules in sub-areas where specific issues warrant them.
Groundwater in your area
Victoria's Rural Water Corporations (RWC) that manage groundwater publish the following information on their websites:
- Unit name and type (e.g. Groundwater Management Area)
- Description and map of the unit (i.e. lateral and depth extent and main towns included) and the description to include reference to larger scale areas (i.e. groundwater catchment) and neighbouring management units
- Management arrangements, either described or using relevant links to online documents (e.g. management plans, orders, announcements etc.)
- Details of the appropriate contact to obtain technical information relied upon for development of management plans, including a report on community consultation
- Status of any planning or review activities including a link to planning processes underway
- Annual reports.
If you are unable to find any of the above information as it relates to your area, please contact the relevant RWC via their website. To find the RWC for your area visit Water in your region or go to water corporations.
Water Supply Protection Areas
A Water Supply Protection Area (WSPA) is an area declared under the Water Act 1989 to protect the groundwater or surface water resources through the development of a statutory management plan.
Groundwater Management Areas
A Groundwater Management Area (GMA) is an area where groundwater has been intensively developed or has the potential to be. GMAs have boundaries defined for the purposes of setting a Permissible Consumptive Volume (PCV) for ongoing management.
In Victoria groundwater is managed through a range of actions:
- 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. For more information on "take and use licenses" visit the Victorian Water Register website.
- Permissible consumptive volume (PCV) is a cap set by the Minister for Water and is the maximum volume of water that can be allocated in a groundwater management unit. The declaration of a PCV for an area provides certainty as to the limits of groundwater able to be extracted. Currently PCVs are set for GMAs and WSPAs but not for remaining areas. Where a PCV is reached, those who want to get access to groundwater or to increase their current entitlement volume must trade a volume of water from another licence holder in the area.
- Statutory Management plans and local management plans can be used to manage groundwater resources equitably and sustainably where there is a risk to the resource.
- Monitoring and metering is used to track groundwater use. The water levels in approximately 2500 observation bores across the state are regularly monitored to assist with responsible management of groundwater resources for long term sustainability. For more information visit the Water Measurement Information System website.
The current system of GMAs and WSPAs focuses on where groundwater use is at its highest, or has greatest potential for development. It is intended that, over time, the whole state of Victoria will be covered by groundwater management plans.
Groundwater catchment and GMA/WSPA gazetted plans
Groundwater catchment plans and GMA/WSPA gazetted plans can be found on the Landata website. Plans are available for anyone to view, print and save as a PDF file.
To obtain this information you will need to register as a user on the website and input the LEGL plan number (e.g. 12-069). Plan numbers are listed below.
After registering, at the homepage select Central Plan Office under Title and property information. Then select LEGL plans, enter the plan number and view the plan you want and save the PDF file.
East Port Phillip Bay
Goulburn - Broken
West Port Phillip Bay
Hopkins - Corangamite
Wimmera - Mallee