Victoria has an effective compliance and enforcement system that helps protect Victorians against water theft.

A review by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) in 2017 found a strong culture of compliance and modern metering in Victoria. Victoria has the largest fleet of modern meters in Australia, with 91% of groundwater and 83% of surface water take in northern Victoria metered. Meters with telemetry provide accurate data in real-time to water users and authorities to show us where water is being extracted. Victoria also monitors groundwater levels to ensure sustainability and fair and equitable sharing of water. The water levels of approximately 1,800 observation bores across Victoria are monitored regularly. Some of these sites are now monitored with telemetry systems, providing live data and enabling swift remedial actions if necessary.  This provides people with confidence in our water management systems and water markets.

Read more about how Victoria manages water compliance.

Joint efforts to improve Basin-wide compliance

Allegations of significant water theft in the northern Basin in 2017 highlighted the importance of having effective compliance and enforcement systems across the Basin. All Basin states and the Australian Government, through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), have committed to a Basin Compliance Compact that will improve the transparency and accountability of water management regimes and put in place more consistent compliance and enforcement practices in the Basin.

Basin Compliance Compact

Victoria is committed to working with the other Basin States and the Commonwealth to improve transparency, maintain public confidence in the Basin Plan and continue to manage water resources fairly. The Compliance Compact is also an opportunity to review our existing systems and policies, and to ensure that they are continuously improved. Water theft is a crime. In the Government’s water plan Water for Victoria, Victoria committed to modernising our compliance regime to ensure strong compliance and fair water access for everyone. Changes could include increased penalties and providing authorities with more enforcement tools.

Victoria is now implementing the actions in the Compact in accordance with COAG principles of best practice regulation. This means that Victoria will identify actions in the Compact where there is potential for inconsistency with the principles or unintended consequences and, for these actions:

  • identify a range of feasible options consistent with the Compact action and assess their costs and benefits in consultation with stakeholders; and
  • adopt the option that is effective and proportional to the issue being addressed, and results in the greatest improvement in compliance at the least cost.

The Compact actions have been grouped into five themes and will be reported on as they are completed:

Overall action status: 13 actions complete; 21 actions in progress; 4 actions have ongoing considerations

Page last updated: 03/07/19