The Department of Environment, Land Water and Planning (DELWP) together with Agriculture Victoria and water corporations will continue to monitor the climatic conditions across the state and provide targeted support to areas of need.

Current status of Victoria's water resources

DELWP is closely monitoring dry conditions and water availability in the state’s storages. Stay up to date with water information through our Water Snapshot, which presents a variety of information and is updated weekly The Annual Water Outlook also keeps Victorians informed and outlines contingency plans to cope with shortages.

Accessing emergency water

Victoria has a network of over 300 emergency water supply points (EWSPs) which provide water for stock and domestic purposes during severe dry seasonal conditions, surface water scarcity and bushfires. The Victorian Government has committed $2.4 million since 2018 to improve access to emergency water supply points so that the community has better access to water for their stock and domestic needs.

Drought research

In December 2020, DELWP released Victoria’s Water in a Changing Climate (PDF, 10.5 MB) (or accessible version (DOCX, 2.8 MB)). This document describes the findings from the Victorian Water and Climate Initiative. Areas of research included looking at some of the state’s catchments’ response to the Millennium Drought as well as potential drought risk that will be important for future drought planning.

Guidelines for water corporations

Also released in December 2020, the Guidelines for Assessing the Impact of Climate Change on Water Availability in Victoria (PDF, 8.3 MB) (or accessible version (DOCX, 8.7 MB)) present a consistent approach for applying climate change scenarios to water resource planning. These guidelines can potentially help to inform drought preparedness and operational planning by providing advice on drought scenarios consistent with the assumptions of the guidelines.

On-farm irrigation efficiency

The Sustainable Irrigation Program undertakes a range of actions to improve on-farm water use. A number of activities support irrigators to achieve improved irrigation water use efficiency, which is an important drought preparedness action:

  • Property planning (including grants for the preparation or update of whole farm plans), and other decision support programs,
  • Provision of specialist independent advice to irrigators,
  • Grants to enable adoption of improved farm irrigation infrastructure.

To find up-to-date information about specific incentive programs for improving irrigation water use efficiency, please contact your local Catchment Management Authority (CMA) or Agriculture Victoria office.

Lessons from the Millennium Drought

The dry conditions experienced between 1996 and 2010, often described as the Millennium Drought, brought about changes in how water is managed in Victoria.

Managing Extreme Water Shortage in Victoria: Lessons from the Millennium Drought (PDF, 4.1 MB) (accessible version (RTF, 1.1 MB)) documents the experiences of water managers across Victoria during the Millennium Drought, and highlights the lessons learned about water planning and management. The report provides an insight into how the Victorian water entitlement and water planning framework was strengthened to manage future dry climate conditions.

The report captures the steps taken to address low water resource availability and to ensure equitable, efficient and appropriate use of water. This includes changes to water resource management in all sectors (urban, irrigation, domestic and stock, and environmental), as well as investment in infrastructure, water efficiency and behavioural change programs.

These improvements put Victoria in a good position for future drought scenario planning.

Page last updated: 19/02/21