Water Resource Entitlements, Planning, Monitoring and Information

This initiative delivered actions in Chapter 8 of Water for Victoria to improve state-wide water resource planning, improve water resource information to support planning and decision-making, and enhance public reporting of water availability and use.

EC4 Expenditure to date

Water for Victoria: Entitlements and planning - $16,672,977 $21,274,000 $22,114,000
Water information for sustainable water management $12,077,180 $297,815 - $3,000


Water Entitlements

This initiative strengthened the water entitlement framework; providing greater flexibility and choice for licence-holders; strengthening and modernising compliance arrangements; and better recording, monitoring and accounting for significant uses of water. Achievements include:

  • Provided input to NSW's review of the Snowy Licence.
  • Implemented Prerequisite Policy Matters (PPMs) required under the Basin Plan to obtain MDBA accreditation.
  • Created the Barwon Environmental Entitlement, providing an additional 1GL of environmental water for the Barwon River.
  • Transferred an average of 8GL/year of water in the Thomson Reservoir from the Melbourne retailers to the VEWH helping to improve the environmental health of the Thomson River.
  • Developed proposed amendments to the Water Act 1989 to give effect to a new system manager appointment that would streamline current resource management arrangements. These amendments did not proceed but may be put forward in a future bill.
  • Investigated the viability of implementing summer high flow extraction in unregulated systems, which concluded that guidelines are necessary for it to be considered on an individual case basis.
  • Converted water recovered by the connections project and issued entitlements to the Commonwealth in line with the contractual agreements.
  • Implemented the Murray-Darling Basin Compliance Compact, which is an agreement between basin states and the Commonwealth to strengthen compliance and enforcement regimes.
  • Facilitated an independent review of non-urban water corporations and the Department’s compliance and enforcement processes and procedures.
  • Published state-wide compliance statistics for 2015-2016, 2016-2017, 2017-2018 and 2018-19 to improve transparency of state-wide compliance activities.
  • Water and Catchments Amendment Act 2019 passed amending the Water Act 1989 to introduce enforcement measures and increasing the penalties for offences.
  • Reviewed and updated Non-Urban Water Metering Policy
  • Developed Victorian Non-Urban Water Compliance and Enforcement Training Manual for Water Corporations
  • Developed and applied a new method for accounting for farm dams to improve the accuracy of water use accounting.
  • Completed an issues paper for reasonable limits for domestic and stock use to support further stakeholder consultation.
  • Designed and built replacement system for bore completion reporting allowing reports to be submitted electronically and information to be available in a more timely manner.
  • Released Geothermal Groundwater Licensing Guidelines to confirm rural water corporations powers to assess geothermal groundwater use applications.


Improved state-wide water resource planning
  • The first Long-Term Water Resource Assessment (LTWRA) has been published for southern Victoria. The assessment identified seven river basins where long-term declines in water availability have fallen disproportionately on the environment (Action 8.6).
  • A LTWRA for northern Victoria will be undertaken in 2025, prior to the review of the Basin Plan. Undertaking the assessment for northern Victoria in 2025 will mean that the best, most current data on our water resources, and how they are shared, is available to inform the review of the Basin Plan.
  • The Water and Catchments Legislation Amendment Act (2019) enables the findings of the LTWRA to be addressed by preparing a new or reviewing an existing Sustainable Water Strategy (SWS); thereby better aligning the SWS and LTWRA processes (Action 8.8). The response to the first LTWRA will be through the new Central and Gippsland Region SWS.
  • The Central Region SWS review report has been approved and published (2018). This is the first review of a SWS completed.
  • The Gippsland Region SWS and Western Region SWS 5-yearly assessment reports approved and released (2018).
  • Completion of the Progress reports for implementation of the Gippsland Region SWS (2019) and Western Region SWS (2019) outlining steps to complete actions.
  • Began development of the new Central and Gippsland Region SWS, combining the existing Central Region and Gippsland Region SWS boundaries. The new boundary reflects the increasing connectivity between the Melbourne water system, major urban areas (including Geelong and Ballarat), and towns through Victoria’s water grid.
  • The development and implementation of the Central and Gippsland Region SWS will occur over the coming years.
  • Documented the Victorian groundwater management history and policies to use as a baseline to inform development of future groundwater management.
Improved rural water supply planning
  • The annual statewide outlook for 2016/2017, 2017/2018 and 2019/20 were published.
  • A report was completed documenting stakeholder views on statutory water planning and how they believed the process can be improved. Legislative amendments were prepared to streamline the process.
Improved water resource assessments to support planning and decisions
  • The annual assessment of Victoria’s compliance with the cap on water diversions under schedule E of the MDB Agreement has been undertaken, resulting in Victoria successfully meeting Murray-Darling Basin Authority compliance and legislative obligations for 2015/16, 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19.
  • The transitional annual assessment of Victoria’s compliance with the diversion limit under Section 71 of the Basin Plan obligations has been undertaken, resulting in Victoria successfully meeting compliance and legislative obligations for 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19.
  • Surface water models for significant systems in Victoria have been developed and implemented for planning and policy development purposes, and to meet Basin Plan obligations.
  • Development of Baseline Diversion Limit (BDL) and Interim Water Resource Plan (WRP) hydrologic models for Victoria’s North and Murray, and Wimmera-Mallee Water Resource Plan areas.
  • Quantification of surface water availability under climate change in northern systems and provided to the MDBA for use in the analysis of Capacity Risks.
  • Development of the Diversion Limit Compliance Method for Melbourne’s system has been completed.
  • Technical works including business cases have been completed and advice provided on all Victorian operational rule changes projects for the Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Mechanism under the Basin Plan.
  • The completion of technical work including modelling to quantify water savings from complex water saving projects including Greens Lake, Little Murray Weir and operational loss savings from the Goulburn-Murray Irrigation District.
  • Agreement on methodology with MDBA and other Commonwealth agencies for revising Long-Term Diversion Limit Equivalent (LTDLE) factors for different categories of entitlements in Victorian Sustainable Diversion Limit (SDL) resource units and finalisation of the revised LTDLE factors contributing to meeting Basin Plan obligations
  • Improved Source modelling platform software to replace the existing REALM software, development and implementation of a Strategy for Transition from REALM to Source including development of daily Source models and a community of practice for hydrological modelling in Victoria to deliver improved hydrological modelling capabilities.
  • A new method for accounting for water interception activities has been developed.
  • A review of the permissible consumptive volume for Gerangamete Groundwater Management Area has been completed.
  • Amended the permissible consumptive volume for the Paaratte Groundwater Management Zone to clarify the depth boundaries of the management zone
  • Amended the permissible consumptive volume of surface water for additional surface water systems and to decrease the volume declared for the Otway Coast.
  • A review was undertaken of critical information required for improved groundwater resources assessments through a stocktake, gap analysis and mapping of key groundwater data sets. Critical information on aquifer properties, recharge and surface water-groundwater interactions were derived through the development of a new statistical model and trialed in three catchments (Campaspe, Warrion, Neaurpur). The model, developed in collaboration with Melbourne University, is an alternative to field-based methods utilising groundwater level and groundwater metered use collected through near-real time data loggers.
  • Work was undertaken to improve understand critical processes for improved water resource assessments such as groundwater-surface water interaction and, better understanding climate impacts to groundwater.
  • To support planning and decision, completed an analysis of state-wide groundwater use and investigated a new approach to groundwater level reporting using similar metrics to surface water storage reports e.g. percentage of full supply level.
  • Completed improved groundwater resource assessments to understand how groundwater availability has changed in the twelve areas of Southern Victoria. The report, completed as part of Victoria’s first Long-Term Water Resource Assessment, provides a robust technical method to complete these assessments, and a wealth of data and analysis to inform policy, planning and decisions.
  • The permissible consumptive volumes for several Groundwater Management Areas have been reviewed for - Gerangamete, Lower Ovens, Mid Loddon, Paaratte, South West Limestone, Jan Juc, Wandin Yallock, Boneo, Stratford and South West Lower Aquifer.
  • Reviewed the groundwater chemistry, technical and management review of West Wimmera region of the Designated Area (Province 2), and the Agreement in support of the South Australian-Victorian Border Groundwater Agreement Review Committee.
  • To inform future sustainable yield assessments of groundwater, the state-wide Permissible Consumptive Volumes were reviewed to identifying gaps and new information.

Monitoring and Information

This initiative has helped to provide clear information about water resources to the community and improve water resource information to support planning and decisions. Some key achievements have included:

  • New surface water laboratory (water quality) contract (3+1 +1 year contract worth S1.7M)
  • New surface water monitoring contract (3+1+1 year contract worth $45M)
  • Annual data collection of surface water data at 934 surface water locations
  • All data from sites within the Regional Water Monitoring Partnership published online in the Water Management Information System.
  • Telemetry installed at 223 surface water sites and at 457 groundwater bores
  • Annual collection of groundwater data at 1530 groundwater bores
  • Monthly maintenance to all surface water sites and quarterly maintenance groundwater bore sites to keep in good working order
  • Water Resources Notification System project scoped
  • 787 repairs/ updating of equipment at surface water sites
  • Real time water data management system implemented along with cloud hosting arrangements with Amazon Web Services (AWS)
  • New Regional Water Monitoring Partnership management system for surface water, water quality and groundwater contracts implemented
  • New bore completion reporting module implemented
  • Victorian Water Accounts published for 2015/16, 2016/17, 2017/18, 2018/19
  • 1000 daily and 208 weekly reservoir and rainfall reports and 42 monthly water reports published
  • New web modules for state water accounts highlights and water quality explained implemented
  • New prototype for web based monthly water reporting developed and trialled
  • User needs analysis undertaken to guide the redevelopment of the Water Monitoring Information System website
  • Facilitated and established the Memorandum of Understanding on the National Uniform Drillers Licensing System. The MoU helped develop a nationally consistent standards for licensing water bore drillers, through collaboration with all states and territories, that has greatly removed red tape for the drilling industry by making it much easier for drillers to work across state and territory borders.
  • Published the revised groundwater beneficial use map on the website to align with the new beneficial use categories prescribed by EPA.
  • Updated the Groundwater Online tool providing information to public about information on depth, yield and quality of groundwater at property level.
  • Developed an app allowing access via mobile devices, to the website on Emergency Water Supply Points for Water Cartage.
  • Completed drilling of 17 new groundwater monitoring bores, refurbishment of 240 bores and decommission of 71 bores. 348 sites were made safe and upgraded by installing bollards, concrete pads and new headworks. Integrity of 310 bores were assessed using downhole geophysical assessment and 30 bores were flushed with airlifting. Installed 343 telemetry tubes to the groundwater bore network for remote monitoring of water levels.
  • Implemented the 4th Edition of the Minimum Construction Requirements for Water Bores in Australia. This is the technical standard followed by bore construction licence holders in Victoria and has been developed by the National Uniform Drillers Licencing Committee.

Page last updated: 30/11/20