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Water corporations that manage water resources in non-urban areas play a key role in securing the rights of all water users and safeguarding the State’s water resources.

In these reports, water corporations refers to:

  • Goulburn-Murray Water
  • Lower Murray Water
  • Grampians Wimmera Mallee Water
  • Coliban Water
  • Melbourne Water
  • Southern Rural Water.

Non-urban water compliance and enforcement in Victoria

Victoria has a zero-tolerance approach to unauthorised take, ensuring a level playing field for all water users.

Victoria is committed to maintaining its strong compliance record to maintain the integrity of the entitlements market and protect the environment.

Water corporations have greater capacity for more compliance and enforcement activities than in past years due to continued investments in metering and system monitoring technology, coupled with systems to better target risk.

Enforcement actions

Water corporations have a range of enforcement options to pursue. Advisory letters and verbal warnings are usually the first enforcement action taken in response to a breach. Followed by a formal warning letter, notice of contravention, reduce, restrict or discontinue water supply, or prosecution.

From 1 July 2020, water corporations are able to issue water infringement notices for less serious offences.

Water corporations may take more than one enforcement action if the water user does not rectify the breach after one enforcement action.

Non-urban water compliance and enforcement actions

Water corporations that manage water resources in non-urban areas play a key role in securing the rights of all water users as well as safeguarding the State’s water resources.

Most water users are responsible and abide by the conditions of their licences. However, each year, some users break the law.

Common offences of the Water Act 1989 in rural areas are:

  • Unauthorised take of water (sections 33E, 63 and section 289).
  • Unauthorised works (section 75).
  • Wrongful take of water (section 289).
  • Structure over works (section 148).
  • Interference with a water corporation’s property (section 288).
  • Obstructing water corporation officers (section 292).
  • Failure to comply with water-use licence conditions (section 64AF).
  • Failure to comply with notice of contravention (section 151).

Zero tolerance for unauthorised take

In May 2020, the Minister for Water appointed Des Pearson, Victoria’s former Auditor-General, to undertake a comprehensive independent review, ensuring Victorian irrigators and water users have a robust compliance and enforcement system, with checks and balances in place that helps maintain – and continue to build – confidence in the market.

The review found that most irrigators and water users were already doing the right thing, with low levels of non-compliance. There are several areas where compliance and enforcement approaches could be further strengthened to provide consistent and quicker resolutions.

This review was published in September 2020.We worked with water corporations to ensure that the recommendations were fully implemented across the state by mid-2021.

In July 2020, the Victorian Government introduced regulations that enabled water corporations to issue water infringement notices on smaller volumes of unauthorised take as well as breaches of works and take and use licences.

Compliance activities and enforcement action statistics

Water corporations report annually on their compliance and enforcement activities in accordance with clause 7.3A of their Statement of Obligations.

Annual water compliance reports

The following state-wide statistics have been compiled for the past 4 years.

Page last updated: 24/01/24