On this page:

The Latrobe Valley Regional Water Study, which is part of the Latrobe Valley Regional Rehabilitation Strategy, considered the stability and fire risks associated with the coal mine voids and whether these risks could be mitigated by supplying water to fill the voids.

Key technical studies have underpinned the development of the Strategy.

One potential solution for mine rehabilitation involves stabilising the mine pits (or voids) with pit lakes.

If we do supply water to rehabilitate the mines, the study discovered if and when it’s possible and whether it's the best approach.

The LVRWS studied:

  • projected water availability and use in the Latrobe river system
  • potential alternative sources of water
  • how water quality may change in the mine pits if there is a need for water for mine rehabilitation
  • the water needs of rivers and wetlands
  • whether rehabilitation is possible without affecting water security
  • the impact on reliable access to water for all users.

Supplying water must not negatively affect water security and the reliable access to water for residents, industry, farming, emergencies and the environment.

What did the study find?

Using key technical studies, the focus was to see if supplying water to fill the voids would reduce risks.

The LVRWS found that surface water availability in the Latrobe river system has decreased significantly in the past 20 years, from a long-term average of about 800 gigalitres a year to about 600 gigalitres a year since 1997.

It also found that under recent conditions or a potentially drier future climate, surface water availability could be less than needed to supply all environmental and consumptive demands and mine rehabilitation.

If water sourced from the Latrobe river system is shown to be required for safe and stable mine rehabilitation, any filling of the mine voids would need to be subject to conditions, such as restricting or halting filling when it is dry, to prevent unacceptable impacts on other water users and the environment and to allow for declines in water availability to be shared between all water users.

The LVRWS also found that mine rehabilitation must not adversely impact on the environmental values of the Gippsland Lakes. This area is a Ramsar-listed site of international environmental significance that Victoria has an international obligation to protect and restore.

Reports about the impacts of climate change on the water system

A study by the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority investigating the environmental flows requirements for the Latrobe system.

A study looking at potential changes to water availability due to:

  • climate change
  • climate variability.

The report estimates current and future water availability in the Latrobe system.

The study looks at the potential environmental effects of using water from the Latrobe river system for mine rehabilitation.

Government department studies

We also undertook other studies to inform the LVRSS including preliminary land use vision.

You can also read the Department of Jobs, Skills, Industry and Regions land stability and fire study.

Page last updated: 08/09/23