Sustainable water strategies are statutory processes for state-wide water resource planning in Victoria.

Each strategy focusses on one region of Victoria. They are used to manage threats to the supply and quality of water resources to protect environmental, economic, cultural and recreational values. Sustainable water strategies are developed to:

  • help entitlement holders manage their own risks
  • identify potential ways to improve waterway health.

Existing sustainable water strategies

There are four regional sustainable water strategies for Victoria:

  • Central Region Sustainable Water Strategy - 2006
  • Northern Region Sustainable Water Strategy - 2009
  • Gippsland Region Sustainable Water Strategy - 2011
  • Western Region Sustainable Water Strategy - 2011

The strategies identified threats to water availability in each region and proposed policies and actions to help water users, water corporations and catchment management authorities (CMAs) manage and respond to those threats over the next 50 years.

Actions status

300 actions were identified across the four sustainable water strategies. Implementation of actions was largely the responsibility of DELWP, water corporations, catchment management authorities, the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions (formerly DEDJTR) and partners and stakeholders.

DELWP completed a stocktake of all actions in 2016. The actions status was further updated as part of the Central Region SWS review, the Western and Gippsland regions SWSs five-yearly assessments and progress reports on the implementation of actions.

Of the 300 actions, approximately 86% are now complete. Of the remaining actions, many have been partly implemented, while others are to be implemented through other policies, particularly through the State’s Water Plan, Water for Victoria, or through implementation of the Murray Darling Basin Plan. Please visit each SWS tab below for more information about individual action status.

Reviewing sustainable water strategies

The Water Act 1989 requires Sustainable Water Strategies to be reviewed at least every 10 years. Reviews provide an opportunity to identify if the timelines and targets of the Strategy have been met and ways to continue achievement of actions.

Water for Victoria identified the opportunity to complete five-yearly assessments of Sustainable Water Strategies. The five-yearly assessments help identify any key trends and issues to be taken up in any future review.

The review of the Central Region Sustainable Water Strategy and the five-year assessments of the Western Region and Gippsland Region sustainable water strategies were completed in 2018.  The review of the Northern Region Sustainable Water Strategy will start late 2019.

Please visit each SWS tab below for more information about the review and assessments and to download the recently released reports.

Next steps

The four regional sustainable water strategies are current and remain current until future strategies are developed in the regions. Annual monitoring and reporting on the implementation of the SWSs actions will continue.

The findings of the first Long-Term Water Resource Assessment (LTWRA), currently underway and due for completion in early 2020, will be important for shaping water resource management directions.

Water for Victoria outlined a new SWS for southern Victoria to commence in 2019. DELWP is undertaking the new Central and Gippsland region SWS. Consultation with the public and stakeholder groups on key water issues in these regions will begin on 30 September 2019 and will be open until 30 November 2019. For more information and to have your say, visit the consultation page on Engage Victoria.

The five-yearly assessment reports for the Western and Gippsland SWS regions recommended annual reports on the progress of actions. The 2018-19 progress reports can be found in the respective project tabs.

The review of the Northern Region Sustainable Water Strategy will start late 2019.

The strategies

Page last updated: 29/03/21