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What is an environmental entitlement?
An environmental entitlement is a legal right to take and use water granted under the Water Act 1989 for the purpose of maintaining an Environmental Water Reserve or improving the environmental values and health of the water ecosystems and other users that depend on environmental condition).
Who can hold an environmental entitlement?
In addition to environmental entitlements, the Victorian Environmental Water Holder may hold other rights to water, such as bulk entitlements and water shares.
Rights and responsibilities under an environmental entitlement
In accordance with the section 48I of the Water Act 1989, environmental entitlements may specify a range of conditions and obligations.
- Rules about when, where and how much water can be taken
- Rules about the right to a share of storage capacity and share of inflows
- Obligations to contribute to the payment of operation and maintenance costs
- Obligations to metre, maintain accounts and report
Accessing environmental entitlement information
Environmental entitlements are recorded in the Victorian Water Register. You can access copies of the environmental entitlement orders on the Victorian Water Register.
How environmental entitlements are created
The Minister for Water can allocate environmental entitlements under the section 48B of the Act. In allocating an environmental entitlement, the Minister for Water must follow the administrative procedures set out in the Act.
Environmental entitlements were included in the Water Act 1989 via the Water (Resource Management) Act 2005. The Water (Resource Management) Act 2005 amended the Water Act 1989 to create the legal foundation for water to be set aside to maintain environmental values of rivers and streams. It is intended that environmental provisions embedded in existing bulk entitlements will be converted into environmental entitlements. Environmental entitlements form part of the Environmental Water Reserve.
The Environmental Water Reserve
The objective of the Environmental Water Reserve is to preserve the environmental values and health of water ecosystems, including their biodiversity, ecological functioning and quality of water and other uses that depend on environmental condition.
Environmental entitlements that form part of the Environmental Water Reserve enable active management of water to meet specific environmental needs, such as fish spawning triggers or maintaining critical habitat during drought.
Can environmental entitlements be traded?
Environmental entitlements may be transferred, in whole in part, under section 480A of the Act provided the Victorian Environmental Water Holder has applied for and obtained approval from the Minister for Water.
Water allocation made available under environmental entitlements may also be assigned to another person, under section 48L of the Act in accordance with the trading rules, provided the trade will benefit the objectives of the Environmental Water Reserve.
Can environmental entitlements be amended?
The Victorian Environmental Water Holder can request the Minister to amend an environmental entitlement under section 48K of the Act.
When the Minister for Water receives a request to amend an environmental entitlement, the administrative procedure set out in the Act must be followed. Key steps include:
- Requests are advertised in local newspapers and on this website;
- The process may involve consultation with stakeholders and local communities and submissions to the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action. The purpose of the consultation is to identify the potential impacts of the proposal;
- The Minister for Water may call for submissions when a request is received, and will consider any submissions before making a decision; and
- Amendments are granted through an order from the Minister for Water or the Governor in Council and published in the Victorian Government Gazette
Requests pending approval
Request to amend Tarago and Bunyip Rivers Environmental Entitlement 2009
The Minister for Water has received a request from the Victorian Environmental Water Holder to amend the Tarago and Bunyip Rivers Environmental Entitlement 2009, under section 48K of the Water Act 1989.
This amendment will enable the Victorian Environmental Water Holder to store its share of inflows in unused airspace in Tarago Reservoir, when its own capacity share (3,000 Megalitre) is full. Read more about the request.
Recently approved requests
New Goulburn System – Mitigation Water Environmental Entitlement Order 2023 and Murray System – Mitigation Water Environmental Entitlement Order 2023
The Minister for Water has approved a request from the Victorian Environmental Water Holder for two new environmental entitlements (Goulburn System – Mitigation Water Environmental Entitlement Order 2023 and Murray System – Mitigation Water Environmental Entitlement Order 2023) under section 48C of the Water Act 1989.
The new environmental entitlements will provide the Victorian Environmental Water Holder with an enduring right to water recovered by the Goulburn-Murray Water Connections Project, to mitigate the impact from the project to local sites with high environmental value.
The new environmental entitlements came into effect on 1 July 2023. View or download from the Victorian Water Register.
Page last updated: 22/11/23