The ‘Evidence base for Victorian water: availability and knowledge’ initiative will enable delivery of the essential water availability information that underpins water security for Victoria and will provide government with the critically important continuity of capacity and expertise in DELWP to deal with increasingly dry conditions and the pressures this brings.

This initiative will deliver four Water for Victoria actions (either in full or in part) including:

  • Action 2.2: Understand and apply climate science to water management
  • Action 8.6: Commence the long-term water resource assessment process
  • Action 8.10: To provide clear information about water resources to the community.
  • Action 8.11: To improve water resource information to support planning and decisions.

This initiative complements two others which address water sharing (the rules and levers for sharing water) and the Water Register (the technology platform that records water use and entitlements).

EC5 Expenditure to date

Program Title (EC5)

2020–21 Expenditure $'000

2021–22 Expenditure $'000

The evidence base for Victorian water: availability and knowledge


Understand and Apply Climate Science to Water 

The Victorian Water and Climate Initiative (VicWaCI) is an initiative to implement Action 2.2 in Water for Victoria. This action will continue to build our understanding of how climate change will affect water resources by investing in research on climate change and building partnerships with stakeholders to share knowledge and apply research to policy, planning and practice.

VicWaCI seeks to better understand our climate and water resource situation through its partnership between the Victorian Department of Environment Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), the Bureau of Meteorology, the University of Melbourne, Monash University, and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

Progress to date

  • Engagement with the water sector took place throughout the year to support the application of the Guidelines for Assessing the Impact of Climate Change on Water Availability in Victoria in the next iteration of Urban Water Strategies and the Central and Gippsland Region Sustainable Water Strategy.
  • The second phase of the VicWaCI commenced in July 2021, with research partners the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO. The research is continuing to improve understanding of how the water cycle has been changing over time, and the influence of climate change on water resources.
  • A key deliverable from the program in 2021-22 was the development of a new method for assessing how much influence climate change is having on Victorian rainfall by the Bureau of Meteorology (Rauniyar S.P. and Power S.B., Climate Dynamics, May 2022), which is helping to better understand declines in Victorian cool season rainfall over coming decades.
  • Work also continued on a collaborative research project with CSIRO, Melbourne University, Monash University and Melbourne Water to better understand the drivers and triggers causing hydrologic state changes in response to drought, and to develop modelling tools for water sector stakeholders to improve hydrologic prediction of these processes.
  • A key objective of the research is to ensure it remains user focussed so that it helps facilitate and fast track application of the best available science, reflecting the current context for water management in Victoria.

Surface Water Assessment and Modelling 

This program undertakes surface water assessment and modelling tasks to support the sustainable management of Victoria’s water resources through the security and transparency of the Victorian entitlement framework and planning, delivery of Water for Victoria actions and effective interstate water-sharing arrangements. The surface water analysis and models are fundamental to informing Government’s decision making on initiatives to sustainably manage water resources such as:

  • Victoria’s water grid augmentation
  • The quantification of climate change impacts
  • Sustainable diversion limits under Murray-Darling Basin Plan
  • The long term water resource assessment
  • Sustainable water strategies and urban water strategies, and
  • equitable sharing of resources between consumptive, environmental, recreational and cultural users.

Progress to date

  • The annual assessment of Victoria’s compliance with the cap on water diversions (schedule E of the MDB Agreement) and sustainable diversion limit (Section 71 of Commonwealth Water Act 2007) has been undertaken, resulting in Victoria successfully meeting legislative compliance obligations for 2020/21.
  • Prepared communication materials on Sustainable Diversion Limits and Trends in Water Use in Northern Victoria.
  • Technical assessments and consultative activities were undertaken to inform the evidence base for policy directions and action in the draft Central and Gippsland Region Sustainable Water Strategy (CGRSWS) including to revise Melbourne Water diversion limit compliance method for ensuring sustainable management of water resources in the system over the long term.
  • Worked closely with and provided expert advice to National Water Reform Committee Independent Advisor for development of draft National Strategy for Hydrological Modelling (NHMS) with High-level Implementation Plan.
  • Supported Enhanced Environmental Water Delivery project, including providing advice on Victorian hydrological models and participation in meetings and workshops to progress project.
  • Technical contributions to and representation in interjurisdictional committees for advice on matters related to River Murray operations, Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) water resource availability and key water management activities, and MDB inter-state water sharing arrangements.
  • Maintained and improved Source modelling platform software by working closely with jurisdictions and eWater, and developed and improved daily Source models of Victorian systems.
  • Led community of practice for hydrological modelling in Victoria and regular communication and consultation with Victorian stakeholders through Victorian Hydrological Modelling Group, to deliver improved hydrological modelling capabilities.
  • Significant progress in development of Model Management System (MMS) - completion of Model Catalog solution design; DELWP Architecture Review Board endorsement of initial concept design for proposed MMS; completion of Information Security Assessment, System Security Plan and Privacy Impact Assessment for model datastores; and configuration and maintenance of model datastores for 7 Source models and 1 REALM model.
  • Development of forecast Source models, namely implementation of forecast Source model as a sub model within the Wimmera-Glenelg Source planning model and development of a forecasting version of the Ovens Source model.

Long-Term Water Resource Assessment 

Long-term water resource assessments (LTWRA) are a key tool to monitor the state of Victoria’s water resources. These assessments determine whether long-term resource availability has changed, and if so, whether there has been a disproportionate impact on water available for consumptive use or the environment.

The Water Assessment Projects and Planning team provides ongoing technical expertise and the evidence base to support the Central and Gippsland Region Sustainable Water Strategy (SWS) (in development). This includes support for the SWS actions that respond to the disproportionate decline in water available to the environment in several river basins identified by the LTWRA technical assessment for southern Victoria.

Progress to date

  • Released report on the evidence base for the Central and Gippsland Region Sustainable Water Strategy (SWS). The “Technical Guide to Figures in Central and Gippsland Region Sustainable Water Strategy Discussion Draft” is available on the webpage.
  • Supported community and stakeholder community information and engagement sessions and webinars for the draft Central and Gippsland Region SWS  and in response to  public submissions related to the LTWRA response process and water availability across the Central and Gippsland Region.
  • Refined water availability information to inform the Central and Gippsland Region SWS. Worked with Waterway Programs Branch to ensure that future waterway health monitoring programs meet the data needs for future Long-Term Water Resource Assessments.

Groundwater assessment and modelling 

The groundwater assessment and modelling program includes:

  • Reviewing and assessing the sustainable level of groundwater use in 75 per cent of systems across Victoria.
  • Preparing for the long-term water resource technical groundwater assessments in Northern Victoria.
  • Provision of expert analysis, advice and input into policy development and licensing decisions for the sustainable management of groundwater resources.
  • Refurbishment of State Observation Bores.
  • Supporting the administration and technical assessments of the Border Groundwater Agreement.

Supporting the administration and technical assessments of the Border Groundwater Agreement.

This program will continue to deliver on Action 8.11 of Water for Victoria to improve water resource information to support planning and decisions, and enable several other actions listed in Water for Victoria. The project will also deliver on some of the Minister’s obligations under the Water Act 1989, Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act 1990, Water Act 2007 (Cwlth), Water Amendment Act 2008 (Cwlth), Sustainable Diversion Limit compliance, Groundwater (Border Agreement) Act 1985 and the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 (Cwlth).

Progress to date

  • Progress has been made on the groundwater sustainable yield project over 2021/22 including the development of draft methodology for assessments including consultation with key stakeholders. Independent reviewers were also appointed and initial reviews on draft methodology obtained.
  • Provision of expert analysis, advice and input into policy development and licensing decisions for the sustainable management of groundwater resources, including input into the development of Groundwater 2030, the draft Central and Gippsland region SWS. Advice was also provided on Hazelwood mine rehabilitation project Environmental Effects Statement and Alcoa mine rehabilitation.
  • Refurbishment of State Observation Bores works now completed on twelve out of the 24 groundwater bores.
  • The Groundwater (Border Agreement) Act 1985 the 2020-21 Annual Report was delivered and tabled at parliament. Review of the Border Groundwater Agreement. Reporting of 2020/21 groundwater use in the Murray Darling Basin consistent with the Commonwealth Water Act 2007 requirements was completed.

Surface Water and Ground Water Monitoring 

This program focuses on the fundamental role of government as steward of the state’s water resources, which includes obligations under the Water Act 1989 and implementation of commitments in Water for Victoria. This requires government oversight to ensure it provides access to water resource information that is clear, transparent, and user-friendly for the community and stakeholders. Improved water monitoring, analysis and sharing of information will assist environmental and consumptive water users to understand the options available to them and to use those options to meet the challenges of changing industry circumstances and water availability.

Ongoing monitoring from Victoria’s key gauging stations and groundwater observation bores is a vital input to the modelling and analysis required to develop our understanding of both short-term variability and long-term trends in the state’s water resources. This knowledge basis is vital for long-term and short-term planning and licensing decisions, compliance, and enforcement. DELWP will work with water corporations and catchment management authorities to:

  • continue to invest in ongoing statewide surface water and groundwater monitoring networks
  • improve the quality and accuracy of monitoring data through investment in infrastructure upgrades and new technologies to receive more timely data
  • improve the accessibility of data and provide a range of information products that meet community expectations

Progress to date

  • Regular monitoring and maintenance at 354 surface water sites
  • Regular monitoring and maintenance at 1388 groundwater sites
  • Regular water quality laboratory analysis for 152 water quality sites
  • All monitoring data collected was published on the Water Management Information System (, with a rRedesign of the Water Management Information System website well advanced. This follows on from 10 months of consultation with users to see what improvements they would like to see to the web site. so that the web site better meets their needs
  • New 5-year water quality laboratory analysis approved and signed
  • 97 monitoring sites had assets upgraded or replaced
  • 33 sites upgraded from 3G to 4G, in preparation of the 3G network being turned off in 2024
  • Completed an analysis of impact of bushfires on water quality
  • Redesign of the Water Management Information System website well advanced
  • Work commenced with Melbourne University on redesigning field cabinets to better withstand bushfires.

Water Accounting and Reporting 

The Water Accounting and Reporting (WAR) team is responsible for water accounting and reporting on water availability and use, and they are the business owner for Victorian Water Register (VWR) services.

WAR have been delegated the Minister’s legislative responsibilities to:

  • Issue water allocation against entitlements in accordance with the respective resource managers’ seasonal determinations,
  • Apply carryover rules for unused water allocation and licence volumes, and
  • Apply water trading rules.

WAR is also responsible for:

  • producing the annual Victorian Water Account, a comprehensive annual account of the use and availability of Victoria’s water resources;
  • Water register help desk function;
  • Ensuring the collection of funds for the operation of the register as per agreed cost sharing with the register partners;
  • Working with the rural water corporations to improve water register services to enhance the customer experience and reduce processing costs; and
  • Contributing to the development of the new water register

Progress to date

  • 2020-21 Victorians Water Accounts (VWA), and released by June 2022 with more online access to data and content, additional content moved online for groundwater reporting as well as new map based data visualisations
  • Project to replace VWA written report with comprehensive website version of the report commenced, with redesign phase completed and build ready to be commenced in Year 3.
  • Public facing water resource reporting updated weekly, with a focus on storage levels, rainfall, water allocations and restrictions

Improvements made to water snapshot to provide clearer and more detailed access to resource condition information, including easy access to past data on storages, restrictions, and trends.

Knowledge and insights

To deliver equitable and transparent water stewardship, the government must ensure water information is published in a clear and accessible manner for policy makers, water users and the public as a whole.

The purpose of this project is to take water data, information and reports created by DELWP and make it easier for the public to find, understand and engage with this information.

An additional planned component of this initiative was the development of a water insights library to improve the Department’s internal cataloguing of water data. However, due to funding constraints, this project did not proceed past the feasibility stage. 

Progress to date

  • Created social media content to increase public engagement with Victorian water data and provide insights into how Victoria manages surface and groundwater, now and into the future. This included developing and releasing a video animation on “the science of water modelling: from map to tap”, see Surface water modelling .
  • Worked closely with the Geography Teachers Association of Victoria to commence development of a Water Education Portal which will offer an interactive web space for students and teachers to support the use and delivery of the lesson plans developed in in Year 1 of EC 5.
  • Supported the delivery of phase 1 of the Compliance – Visualising our Communications project. This project will deliver improved non-urban water compliance information and education to better support water users to remain compliant with their licences and entitlements.

Page last updated: 09/10/22