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The Evidence base for Victorian water: availability and knowledge initiative will enable delivery of the essential water availability information that underpins water security for Victoria and will provide the government with the critically important continuity of capacity and expertise in the department to deal with increasingly dry conditions and the pressures this brings.

This initiative will deliver four Water for Victoria actions (either in full or in part), including:

  • Action 2.2: Understand and apply climate science to water management.
  • Action 8.6: Commence the long-term water resource assessment process.
  • Action 8.10: To provide clear information about water resources to the community.
  • Action 8.11: To improve water resource information to support planning and decisions.

This initiative complements 2 others that address water sharing (the rules and levers for sharing water) and the Water Register (the technology platform that records water use and entitlements).

Environmental contribution 5 (EC5)

Program title 2020-21 expenditure ($'000) 2021–22
expenditure ($'000)

The evidence base for Victorian water: availability and knowledge


Understand and apply climate science to water

The Victorian Water and Climate Initiative (VicWaCI) is an initiative to implement Action 2.2 in Water for Victoria.

This action will continue to build our understanding of how climate change will affect water resources by

  • investing in research on climate change
  • building partnerships with stakeholders to share knowledge and apply research to policy, planning and practice.

VicWaCI seeks to better understand our climate and water resource situation through its partnership between the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action, the Bureau of Meteorology, the University of Melbourne, Monash University, and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

Engagement with the water sector

Engagement with the water sector took place throughout the year to support the application of the Guidelines for Assessing the Impact of Climate Change on Water Availability in Victoria in the next iteration of Urban Water Strategies and the Central and Gippsland Region Sustainable Water Strategy.

Commencing the second phase of VicWaCI

The second phase of the VicWaCI commenced in July 2021, with research partners the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO. The research continues to improve understanding of how the water cycle has changed over time and climate change's influence on water resources.

Collaborate research projects

A key deliverable from the program in 2021-22 was the development of a new method for assessing how much influence climate change is having on Victorian rainfall by the Bureau of Meteorology (Rauniyar S.P. and Power S.B., Climate Dynamics, May 2022), which is helping to understand better declines in Victorian cool season rainfall over coming decades.

Work also continued on a collaborative research project with CSIRO, Melbourne University, Monash University and Melbourne Water to better understand the drivers and triggers causing hydrologic state changes in response to drought and to develop modelling tools for water sector stakeholders to improve hydrologic prediction of these processes.

A key objective of the research is to ensure it remains user-focused so that it helps facilitate and fast track application of the best available science, reflecting the current context for water management in Victoria.

Surface water assessment and modelling

This program undertakes surface water assessment and modelling tasks to support the sustainable management of Victoria’s water resources through

  • the security and transparency of the Victorian entitlement framework and planning
  • delivery of Water for Victoria actions
  • effective interstate water-sharing arrangements.

The surface water analysis and models are fundamental to informing Government’s decision-making on initiatives to sustainably manage water resources such as:

  • Victoria’s water grid augmentation
  • The quantification of climate change impacts
  • Sustainable diversion limits under Murray-Darling Basin Plan
  • The long-term water resource assessment
  • Sustainable water strategies and urban water strategies
  • Equitable sharing of resources between consumptive, environmental, recreational and cultural users.

Legislative compliance obligations

The annual assessment of Victoria’s compliance with the cap on water diversions (schedule E of the MDB Agreement) and sustainable diversion limit (Section 71 of Commonwealth Water Act 2007) has been undertaken, resulting in Victoria successfully meeting legislative compliance obligations for 2020/21.

Sustainable diversion Limits and Trends in water use

Prepared communication materials on Sustainable Diversion Limits and Trends in Water Use in Northern Victoria.

Draft Central and Gippsland Region Sustainable Water Strategy

Technical assessments and consultative activities were undertaken to inform the evidence base for policy directions and action in the draft Central and Gippsland Region Sustainable Water Strategy (CGRSWS), including to revise Melbourne Water diversion limit compliance method for ensuring sustainable management of water resources in the system over the long term.

National strategy for hydrological modelling

Worked closely with and provided expert advice to National Water Reform Committee Independent Advisor for development of draft National Strategy for Hydrological Modelling (NHMS) with high-level implementation plan.

Enhanced environmental water delivery project

Supported Enhanced environmental water delivery project, including advising on Victorian hydrological models and participating in meetings and workshops to progress the project.

Murray-Darling Basin

Technical contributions to and representation in interjurisdictional committees for advice on matters related to

  • River Murray operations
  • Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) water resource availability
  • key water management activities
  • MDB inter-state water sharing arrangements.

Source modelling platform software

Maintained and improved Source modelling platform software by working closely with jurisdictions and eWater, and developed and improved daily Source models of Victorian systems.

Community of practice

Led community of practice for hydrological modelling in Victoria and regular communication and consultation with Victorian stakeholders through Victorian Hydrological Modelling Group, to deliver improved hydrological modelling capabilities.

Model Management System (MMS)

Significant progress in development of Model Management System (MMS).

  • completion of Model Catalog solution design
  • Department Architecture Review Board endorsement of initial concept design for proposed MMS
  • completion of Information Security Assessment, System Security Plan and Privacy Impact Assessment for model datastores
  • configuration and maintenance of model datastores for 7 Source models and 1 REALM model.

Development of forecast Source models

Development of forecast Source models, namely implementation of forecast Source model as a sub model within the Wimmera-Glenelg Source planning model and development of a forecasting version of the Ovens Source model.

Long-term water resource assessment

Long-term water resource assessments (LTWRA) are a key tool to monitor the state of Victoria’s water resources.

These assessments determine whether long-term resource availability has changed and if so, whether there has been a disproportionate impact on water available for consumptive use or the environment.

The Water Assessment Projects and Planning team provides ongoing technical expertise and the evidence base to support the Central and Gippsland Region Sustainable Water Strategy (SWS) (in development). This includes support for the SWS actions that respond to the disproportionate decline in water available to the environment in several river basins identified by the LTWRA technical assessment for southern Victoria.

Evidenced based report

Released report on the evidence base for the Central and Gippsland Region Sustainable Water Strategy (SWS). The Technical Guide to Figures in Central and Gippsland Region Sustainable Water Strategy Discussion draft is available on the water.vic.gov.au webpage.

Working with the community and stakeholders

Supported community and stakeholder community information and engagement sessions and webinars for the draft Central and Gippsland Region SWS and in response to public submissions related to the LTWRA response process and water availability across the Central and Gippsland Region.

Central and Gippsland Region SWS

Refined water availability information to inform the Central and Gippsland Region SWS. Worked with Waterway Programs Branch to ensure that future waterway health monitoring programs meet the data needs for future Long-Term Water Resource Assessments.

Groundwater assessment and modelling

The groundwater assessment and modelling program includes:

  • Reviewing and assessing the sustainable level of groundwater use in 75% of systems across Victoria.
  • Preparing for the long-term water resource technical groundwater assessments in Northern Victoria.
  • Provision of expert analysis, advice and input into policy development and licensing decisions for the sustainable management of groundwater resources.
  • Refurbishment of State Observation Bores.
  • Supporting the administration and technical assessments of the Border Groundwater Agreement.

This program will continue to deliver on Action 8.11 of Water for Victoria to improve water resource information to support planning and decisions, and enable several other actions listed in Water for Victoria.

The project will also deliver on some of the Minister’s obligations under the Water Act 1989, Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act 1990, Water Act 2007 (Cwlth), Water Amendment Act 2008 (Cwlth), Sustainable Diversion Limit compliance, Groundwater (Border Agreement) Act 1985 and the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 (Cwlth).

Groundwater sustainable yield project

Progress has been made on the groundwater sustainable yield project over 2021/22 including the development of draft methodology for assessments, including consultation with key stakeholders.

Independent reviewers were also appointed, and initial reviews on the draft methodology were obtained.

Sustainable management of groundwater resources

Provision of expert analysis, advice and input into policy development and licensing decisions for the sustainable management of groundwater resources, including

  • input into the development of Groundwater 2030
  • the draft Central and Gippsland region SWS.
  • Advice was also provided on Hazelwood mine rehabilitation project Environmental Effects Statement and Alcoa mine rehabilitation.

State observation bores works

Refurbishment of State Observation Bores works is now completed on 12 of the 24 groundwater bores.

Annual report tabled

The Groundwater (Border Agreement) Act 1985, the 2020-21 Annual Report, was delivered and tabled at parliament.

Review of the Border Groundwater Agreement. Reporting of 2020/21 groundwater use in the Murray Darling Basin consistent with the Commonwealth Water Act 2007 requirements was completed.

Surface water and ground water monitoring

This program focuses on the fundamental role of government as steward of the state’s water resources, which includes

  • obligations under the Water Act 1989
  • implementation of commitments in Water for Victoria.

This requires government oversight to ensure it provides access to water resource information that is clear, transparent, and user-friendly for the community and stakeholders.

Improved water monitoring, analysis and sharing of information will assist environmental and consumptive water users to understand the options available to them and to use those options to meet the challenges of changing industry circumstances and water availability.

Modelling and analysis

Ongoing monitoring from Victoria’s key gauging stations and groundwater observation bores is a vital input to the modelling and analysis required to develop our understanding of both short-term variability and long-term trends in the state’s water resources. This knowledge basis is vital for long-term and short-term planning and licensing decisions, compliance, and enforcement. The department will work with water corporations and catchment management authorities to:

  • continue to invest in ongoing statewide surface water and groundwater monitoring networks
  • improve the quality and accuracy of monitoring data through investment in infrastructure upgrades and new technologies to receive more timely data
  • improve the accessibility of data and provide a range of information products that meet community expectations

Regular monitoring and maintenance

  • Regular monitoring and maintenance at 354 surface water sites
  • Regular monitoring and maintenance at 1388 groundwater sites
  • Regular water quality laboratory analysis for 152 water quality sites
  • All monitoring data collected was published on the Water Management Information System.

Redesign of the Water Management Information System website

  • With a redesign of the Water Management Information System website well advanced. This follows on from 10 months of consultation with users to see what improvements they would like to see to the website. so that the website better meets their needs

Water quality laboratory analysis

New 5-year water quality laboratory analysis approved and signed.


  • 97 monitoring sites had assets upgraded or replaced.
  • 33 sites upgraded from 3G to 4G in preparation for the 3G network being turned off in 2024.

Impact of bushfires on water quality

Completed an analysis of the impact of bushfires on water quality.

Website redesign

Redesign of the Water Management Information System website is well advanced.

Redesigning field cabinets

Work commenced with Melbourne University on redesigning field cabinets to better withstand bushfires.

Water Accounting and Reporting

The Water Accounting and Reporting (WAR) team is responsible for water accounting and reporting on water availability and use and they are the business owner for Victorian Water Register (VWR) services.

Water Accounting and Reporting have been delegated the Minister’s legislative responsibilities to:

  • issue water allocation against entitlements in accordance with the respective resource managers’ seasonal determinations
  • apply carryover rules for unused water allocation and licence volumes.
  • apply water trading rules.

Water Accounting and Reporting is also responsible for the following:

  • producing the annual Victorian Water Account, a comprehensive annual account of the use and availability of Victoria’s water resources
  • water register help desk function
  • ensuring the collection of funds for the operation of the register as per agreed cost sharing with the register partners
  • working with rural water corporations to improve water register services to enhance the customer experience and reduce processing costs
  • contributing to the development of the new water register.

2020-21 Victorians Water Accounts

2020-21 Victorians Water Accounts (VWA), and released by June 2022 with more online access to data and content, additional content moved online for groundwater reporting as well as new map based data visualisations

The project to replace Victorians Water Accounts written report with a comprehensive website version of the report commenced, with the redesign phase completed and build ready to be commenced in Year 3.

Water resource reporting

Public-facing water resource reporting updated weekly, with a focus on storage levels, rainfall, water allocations and restrictions

Waer snapshot improvements

Improvements made to the water snapshot to provide clearer and more detailed access to resource condition information, including easy access to past data on storages, restrictions and trends.

Knowledge and insights

To deliver equitable and transparent water stewardship, the government must ensure water information is published in a clear and accessible manner for policymakers, water users and the public as a whole.

The project's purpose is to take water data, information and reports created by the department and make it easier for the public to find, understand and engage with this information.

An additional planned component of this initiative was the development of a water insights library to improve the Department’s internal cataloguing of water data. However, this project did not proceed past the feasibility stage due to funding constraints.

Science of water modelling

Created social media content to increase public engagement with Victorian water data and provide insights into how Victoria manages surface and groundwater, now and into the future. This included developing and releasing a video animation on the science of water modelling: from map to tap, see Surface water modelling.

Water education portal

Worked closely with the Geography Teachers Association of Victoria to commence the development of a Water Education Portal, which will offer an interactive web space for students and teachers to support the use and delivery of the lesson plans developed in year one of Environmental Contribution 5.

Compliance – Visualising our communications project

Supported the delivery of phase one of the Compliance – Visualising our Communications project. This project will deliver improved non-urban water compliance information and education to support water users better to remain compliant with their licences and entitlements.

Page last updated: 08/09/23