Compliance and enforcement frameworks

Progress on actions to September 2019.

Action 2.1, Action 2.1, VIC 2.1 and VIC 2.2: Publish a revised compliance framework that addresses the requirements of recommendation 6 of the Murray-Darling Basin Compliance Review. Also publish risk-based compliance strategy guidelines to support the consistent compliance strategies by rural water corporations, and Publish compliance strategies in accordance with these compliance strategy guidelines.


A compliance framework was published in the on Non-urban water compliance and enforcement – review of framework and governance arrangements report (PDF, 1.2 MB) that is available on DELWP’s website (see page 13 of report).

DELWP has guidelines for water corporations to establish effective compliance strategies. The Non-urban Water Compliance and Enforcement Guidelines for Water Compliance (PDF, 2.0 MB) set out five principles for maintaining strong compliance in Victoria. The guidelines will also build greater consistency in how compliance and enforcement is carried out across Victorian water corporations. Water corporations are expected to adhere to the guidelines as stated in the Minister’s Statement of Obligations (PDF, 5.4 MB).

Action 2.2: Establish a network of water compliance practitioners to promote best practice and innovation in water compliance


In 2018, Victoria co-sponsored a proposal to establish a nation-wide Water Compliance Community of Practice (CoP) under the Australasian Environmental Law Enforcement and Regulators Network. Representatives from Rural Water Corporations and the Department attended the inaugural Water Compliance CoP meeting on 15 November 2018 and have participated in a series of teleconference meetings which are held every 2 months.

In 2019, the Department also established a Victoria Water Compliance CoP. The first meeting was held on 29 July 2019 with compliance representatives from rural water corporations and discussed a variety of issues including:

  • metering policies
  • communication strategies
  • training for authorised water officers/field officers.

The next Victorian CoP meeting will also be extended to include urban water corporations and catchment management authorities, many of whom have expressed interest in joining.

Action 2.3: Develop protocols in relation to Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s Basin Plan compliance and enforcement actions with a view to ensuring effective, transparent and efficient outcomes on water theft

Work in progress

The Department is working with the MDBA on a draft collaboration protocol.

VIC 2.3: Publish a Statement of Penalties and Sanctions under the Victorian Water Act


The Statement of Penalties and Charges is publicly available.

VIC 2.4: Victoria will continue to review the Victorian Water Act to: (i) find opportunities to improve regulatory frameworks to meet best practice and support effective compliance and enforcement; and (ii) make best efforts to seek legislative amendment, including penalties and sanctions, where appropriate

On 15 Aug 2019, the Victorian Government passed the Water and Catchment Legislation Amendment Act 2019.

The Water and Catchment Legislation Amendment Act is significant for compliance because it introduces key amendments for tougher penalties and better enforcement powers that will discourage water theft. The amendments include:

  • Increasing the maximum fine for intentional water theft and related offences if they cause substantial harm (to $990,000 for companies and $198,000 for individuals);
  • Allowing for the suspension or cancellation of licences for taking water and works; and
  • Enabling the development of regulations for water corporations to issue penalty infringement notices for less serious water offences.

VIC 2.5: Victoria applies standard conditions for works licences that require entitlement holders to notify the water corporation within one business day if the meter ceases to function or operate poorly


The Policies for Managing Works Licences sets out the standard conditions for works licences that include requirements on entitlement holders to notify the water corporation within one business day if the meter ceases to function or operate poorly.

VIC 2.6 and VIC 2.7: Victoria’s water corporations report annually on their compliance and enforcement statistics to the Department. Victoria’s water corporations will continue to report on their compliance with the Victorian Water Act

VIC 2.8: Victoria will continue to seek ways to improve its annual reporting on compliance activities to ensure improved transparency


Victoria has processes in place to publish its compliance statistics every year in a timely manner. These processes will be reviewed in 2019 as planned to improve on consistency and transparency, learning from the experience and feedback from rural water corporations for the 2017-18 reporting period.

Intended outcomes for this review include formalising a standard operating procedure (SOP) for annual reporting of compliance activities and revising the template for submissions of compliance activities from rural water corporations to the Department to improve consistency and transparency.

VIC 2.9: Victoria will develop training manuals for compliance with the Victorian Water Act consistent with new compliance strategies

Work in progress

Water corporations already have existing training manuals, such as training manuals for compliance and enforcement and field manuals for authorised water officers. The Department will be reviewing and refreshing these manuals by December 2019.

VIC 2.10: Victoria promotes compliance with the Victorian Water Act through public education programs and information.

VIC 2.11: Victoria will continue to promote innovation in the water sector, which may include the adoption of new technologies where it is cost effective to do so.


Victoria is committed to promoting innovating in the water sector that will improve the availability and accessibility of information to all water users and the public. Examples of recent innovations are:

  • Water Measurement Information System was updated on 31 December 2018 to provide real-time information on all telemetered surface water gauges and groundwater bores in Victoria;
  • A new app – Water Market Watch – was released on 16 July 2019. This app allows the public to keep up-to-date on the northern Victoria’s water markets with instant access to the latest allocation announcements, spill determinations across the state, trade limits and market prices in northern Victoria.

Page last updated: 20/10/20