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Meeting our water challenge

A drier climate, population growth and land use changes are posing threats to Victoria’s water supplies and waterway health. We need long-term assessments and strategies so we can face these challenges. This is why we keep track of our water, manage its use and how it's shared.

The Water Act 1989 requires that we plan for Victoria’s water security and future supplies through sustainable water strategies and long-term water resource assessments.

Sustainable water strategies

Sustainable water strategies (SWS) help manage water resources and improve waterway health. They identify threats to a region water supply and its quality, so we can plan for the future.

In the past, SWS have reduced water demands, secured water supplies and protected waterways and aquifers.

Find the SWS in your region

Long-term water resource assessment

Long-term water resource assessments (LTWRAs) explore changes in water availability. These changes can impact Traditional Owner values, farming, industry, cities, towns and the environment. They also help determine if there have been changes in waterway health.

The Water Act requires a LTWRA every 15 years. The assessment determines if:

  • water availability has declined
  • waterway health has deteriorated due to changes in flow.

The LTWRA for southern Victoria is now complete. The assessment's findings inform our future water planning through sustainable water strategies.

An assessment for northern Victoria will start in 2025. This aligns with the Murray-Darling Basin Plan review scheduled for 2026.

Long-term water resource assessment for southern Victoria

How the Government manages the water sharing between users

The Water Act outlines how the Minister for Water manages water sharing between users of surface water and groundwater.

The LTWRA formal process considers:

  • if the long-term reduction in water availability means consideration of a fairer sharing of the resources between consumptive users and the environment
  • responses to water-sharing arrangements to a decline in waterway health related to change in flow.

Arrangements for water sharing need to be current.

If the LTWRA shows a need for a review of water-sharing arrangements, a new sustainable water strategy can plan for this.

Long-term water resource assessment process

The assessment for southern Victoria began in August 2018 and finished in February 2020.

Technical assessment

The LTWRA for southern Victoria began with a technical assessment to:

  • assess water availability in each river basin and aquifer.
  • identify if the sharing of long-term declines is equal between consumptive uses and the environment.
  • determine if waterway health has deteriorated due to changes in flow.

The organisations involved with the technical assessment included:

  • the Department of Environment, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA)
  • southern Victoria’s water corporations
  • catchment management authorities.

In 2019, the draft technical assessment report was available for public consultation and reviewed by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA).

The EPA checked whether the data used:

  • was the best available
  • supported the conclusions, as well as the method and data.

The EPA endorsed the method and conclusions of the LTWRA.

The final report includes feedback on the draft assessment from the EPA and the community before going to the Minister for Water.

Read the Review of the draft long-term water resource assessment for southern Victoria - Review Panel report.

The southern LTWRA technical assessment is complete.

After endorsement from the Minister for Water in February 2020, the final report is now available for you to read.

Addressing the issues of the findings

Based on the findings of the LTWRA in 2020, the Minister concluded there was a need for a review of water sharing arrangements via a new SWS for:

  • Barwon
  • Moorabool
  • Werribee
  • Maribyrnong
  • Yarra
  • Latrobe
  • Thomson.

The regional sustainable water strategy

The Central and Gippsland Region Sustainable Water Strategy explores water-sharing arrangements and opportunities.

The strategy looks at the sharing of water between the river basins and is part of a broader plan to improve water security now and into the future.

The strategy sets out actions required to increase the volume of environmental water across the region in response to the findings of the LTWRA.

In setting actions, consideration of the range of values on how we share our water includes matters such as:

  • economics
  • environment
  • Traditional Owner cultural values and uses
  • social
  • recreation.

The Central and Gippsland Sustainable Water Strategy sets out our commitment to saving water through water efficiency measures and investing in manufacturing more water supplies, including:

  • using more desalination and recycled water where possible
  • better capturing and using the rain that falls on our cities and towns.

This will help free-up river water to get better environmental outcomes and return water to Traditional Owners.

The strategy identifies options to recover up to 99.5 GL per year over the next decade. It signals that we will need extra water recovery over the longer-term to maintain and improve waterway health under a drying climate.

The strategy also includes actions to carry out complementary measures, such as:

  • building fishways
  • managing vegetation.

This will increase the water available to the environment and will enhance the effectiveness of available environmental water. This will maximise the benefits to waterway health.

Long-term water resource assessement interactive map

View a larger version of this map.

How to use the map

  • Enter your address in the Find Location search bar
  • To filter, use the cog icon to narrow your search
  • Select your address using the magnifying glass icon
  • Zoom out and/or select the coloured section of the map for more information.
  • If you are having difficulties viewing the map, use the larger version of the map.

Page last updated: 08/09/23