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Licences required for domestic and stock waterway diversions

A waterway includes a river, creek, stream, watercourse or other natural channels where water regularly flows, whether the flow is continuous.

You may require a take and use licence if you are diverting water from a waterway for domestic and stock purposes, if there is:

  • Crown land frontage
  • other private land between your property and a waterway.

You may not require a take and use licence if you have a private right because:

  • your property title includes the waterway
  • your property title directly fronts the waterway
  • you are leasing Crown land fronting the waterway
  • your property is the result of subdivision (since 1989).

If you are unsure whether you have a private right, contact your local Rural Water Corporation.

Getting a licence

Under the Water Act 1989 (the Act), you will require a works licence to construct, alter, operate, remove or decommission works that divert water from a waterway.

To divert water from a waterway for domestic and stock use, you may require at least one of the following licences:

  • take and use licence
  • works licence (for pumps and pipes).

Which licence do I need?

If your land fronts a waterway where private rights exist, you must get a works licence.

If your land fronts a waterway where there are no private rights, you must get both a take and use licence and a works licence.

If your land does not front a waterway, you must get both a take and use licence and a works licence.

All catchments in Victoria have caps on water diversions. Most are already fully allocated so no new licences can be issued. If you do not have a private right and you are in a catchment that is already fully allocated, you will need an existing entitlement holder to trade you (permanently or temporarily)  a take and use licence.

Visit the Water Register’s take and use licence trading page for more information.

For a works licence you must apply to your local Rural Water Corporation.

Applying for licences

If you are applying for a take and use licence, works licence or both, you may need to:

  • notify neighbours of your application in writing and advertise in your local newspapers
  • provide a copy of the current Certificate of Title
  • provide a map of the proposed works and pumps on your property
  • provide an engineering design plan detailing the diversion offtake, pumps, pipelines and any storage works existing or proposed, including the nominated contractor responsible for the design and installation of pump and offtake equipment
  • in cases where you propose to occupy or cross Crown land with works or pipelines, you must provide evidence of relevant permissions and consent from the land manager, such as the Department of Environment, Energy and Climate Action (DEECA) or Registered Aboriginal Parties.

These conditions are important to make sure any impacts from works on waterways and surrounding areas is minimal. It is also important to protect the environment and streamflow.

You must have approval and obtain your works licence before starting on any work. Works licences may also be subject to an application fee and validity period.

What to expect after lodging your application

Once you lodge your application with your local Rural Water Corporation they will:

  • notify you they have received your application
  • advise you of the outcome of your application after an assessment.


It is important to comply with your licence requirements and that:

  • you do not take water before the issuing of a works licence
  • you must meet licence conditions
  • you must comply with advertised bans and restrictions.

Riparian management licences

A riparian management licence is for Crown land water frontages. This is for licences that recognise all, or part of the frontage is being managed by a licence holder to protect and improve the riparian environment. A good example is if there is fencing to support native vegetation.

Obtaining a riparian management licence provides the following benefits:

  • It allows you (the landholder) to obtain a take and use licence through your local Rural Water Corporation to maintain access to water, even if the frontage has a fence.
  • You may be eligible for reduced take and use licence fees if fencing is undertaken with a Catchment Management Authority (CMA).
  • You may undertake controlled grazing on the riparian land if approved by your local CMA or DEECA.
  • In CMA priority areas, you may be eligible for incentives for riparian works such as fencing or revegetation if you agree to obtain a riparian management licence.

A riparian management licence is typically generated through the conversion of an existing grazing licence as part of an agreement between a landholder and a CMA for undertaking riparian protection and improvement works, such as fencing and revegetation.

The long-term management responsibilities agreed to by the landholder includes a special condition into a riparian management licence in the CMA agreement.

These special conditions remain with the licence. Transferral of the special conditions can happen if the adjacent private land changes hands.

Licences are generally renewed every five years. Many projects on Crown land that include fencing to manage stock access to a waterway qualify for a riparian management licence. Some examples include CMA, Landcare or privately funded projects.

Contact us about riparian management licences

If you have completed works on Crown land water frontage and think you are eligible for a riparian management licence, contact your local DEECA regional office on 136 186.

You can find more information in our riparian management licences factsheet.

Page last updated: 02/10/23