Water theft is a crime and the Victorian Government has a zero-tolerance policy to water theft.

Victoria has an effective compliance and enforcement system.  The Victorian Government’s Water for Victoria water plan commits to further modernising the state’s compliance regime to ensure even stronger compliance and fair water access for everyone. Changes have included increased penalties and providing authorities with more enforcement tools.

review by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) (PDF 1,284 KB) 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 also provided an opportunity to review our existing systems and policies, and to ensure that they are continuously improved.

A review of the Basin Compliance Compact (PDF, 463 KB) was undertaken by the MDBA and Basin States and was published in May 2021. The review highlighted that Victoria is leading the Basin jurisdictions and has implemented all actions outlined in the Compact. Victoria will continue to work with Basin States and the MDBA on a strong compliance and enforcement approach through:

  • Continued assurance and public reporting focused on outstanding commitments
  • Development of Basin-wide meter thresholds
  • Development of outcomes and performance reporting for water compliance

Since 2018, Victoria has been  implementing the actions in the Compact in accordance with COAG principles of best practice regulation. The majority of Victoria’s actions are now complete and compliance reports will be published annually.

Page last updated: 28/09/22