The Western region covers around one-third of Victoria from Colac and Lorne in the south-east to Ouyen in the north-west. Its agricultural and urban centres include Colac, Port Campbell, Horsham, Stawell, Ararat, Hamilton, Warrnambool and Portland.  

The Western Region Sustainable Water Strategy includes policy statements and 68 actions for implementation at a regional and local scale.

Actions status

The actions status in the Western Region was updated as part of the current five-yearly assessment.  The assessment identifies that of the 69 actions in the Strategy, 19 are achieved and completed, 27 are achieved and ongoing, 11 are progressing through another plan and 12 are partly achieved or not yet achieved.

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Action

Comment

Action Status (five-yearly assessment 2018)

Delivery Period

3.1

Providing more security to section 51 take and use licence holders

Action linked to: WfV 8.2 Provide greater flexibility and choice for licence holders. This action was to increase certainty for water users and the environment. The Water Bill 2014 proposed to extend section 51 take and use licences to 20 years, but it did not proceed through parliament. Investigating the merits of converting take and use licences (section 51 licences under the Water Act) in unregulated surface water and groundwater systems into water shares and other related products is being pursued through WfV action 8.2.

Being progressed through Water for Victoria or the Murray-Darling Basin Plan

NA

3.2

Improving information about domestic and stock dams

Action linked to: WfV 8.4 Better record and report on emerging significant uses of water. This action was to improve knowledge of farm dams to enhance understanding of overall water harvesting within a catchment. The Water Bill 2014 proposed amendments to do this, but it did not proceed through parliament. Regulations requiring registration of new and modified farm dams in rural residential areas were revoked in 2017 after a review found they did not achieve their purpose and were an unreasonable burden on dam owners. WfV committed to recording and reporting on all emerging, significant uses of water including investigating a reasonable-use limit for domestic and stock rights under Section 8 of the Water Act.
The investigation concluded that a reasonable-use limit on water use for domestic and stock could not be implemented nor be effective without a change to the Water Act 1989 to give the Minister the ability to set a limit. Further stakeholder consultation is needed to determine what domestic and stock use poses a risk, what is a reasonable-use limit and whether it is the most effective method to manage the growth in domestic and stock water use. WfV action 8.4 maintains this as a priority.

Being progressed through Water for Victoria or the Murray-Darling Basin Plan

NA

3.3

Requiring property owners to register new domestic and stock bores

Action linked to: WfV 8.4 Better record and report on emerging significant uses of water. This action was to improve knowledge about the use of bores for stock and domestic purposes. The Water Bill 2014 proposed amendments to do this, but it did not proceed through parliament. WfV commits to improved monitoring and reporting on significant uses of water through the Victorian Water Accounts.
WfV action 8.4 maintains this as a priority.

Being progressed through Water for Victoria or the Murray-Darling Basin Plan

NA

3.4

Monitoring and tracking water use outside the entitlement framework

This ongoing action contributes to improving knowledge about unaccounted water use which will help to improve management of water use outside the entitlement framework. National Water Commission funding initiated the action. Although the NWC has been dismantled, the Victorian Water Accounts include estimates of water use by small catchment dams. Further, all domestic and stock bores require a construction licence and estimated use volumes are reported in the water accounts. WfV action 8.4 commits to recording and reporting on all emerging significant uses of water.

Achieved and ongoing

Ongoing

3.5

Developing local management plans for unregulated surface water and groundwater systems

This action is to document existing management rules into local management plans (LMPs), to provide transparent water management. The action is well-progressed and ongoing. LMPs are to be developed in line with DELWP guidelines, which were released in May 2014, and be publicly available on rural water corporations’ websites. For this assessment, an LMP is considered complete when the existing rules are documented and published on the rural water corporation’s website. If the rural water corporation responsible for developing an LMP considers the existing rules sufficient and effective, only documentation is required. Therefore, many of the unregulated surface water and groundwater LMPs are documentation of existing rules only. LMPs established for surface water in the Western Region include for the Otway Coast, Hopkins, Portland Coast, Avoca River, Glenelg and Wimmera-Avon. Lake Corangamite, Mallee, Millicent Coast and Hopkins will be investigated in the future. Also, LMPs were to be developed for some groundwater systems. The Hopkins-Corangamite Groundwater Catchment Statement includes the local management plan for the Colongulac, Glenormiston and Gellibrand GMAs. The West Wimmera GMA has replaced the areas of Balrootan, Kaniva TCSA, Goroke, Little Desert and Nhill. These areas are now covered by the West Wimmera Groundwater Management Strategy 2011. The action also includes reviewing some existing rules. Examples where this has occurred are the Heywood, Hawkesdale, Portland, Nullawarre and Yangery WSPAs (all in the South West Limestone LMP).
Rules for Paaratte and Newlingrook are not yet completed.

Partly or not yet achieved

NA

3.6

Reviewing the process for declaring water supply protection areas and developing statutory management plans

This action was to review the process and establish opportunities for streamlining surface water and groundwater management plans to provide more efficient water management. When the WRSWS was published, statutory management plans were administratively costly and could take more than two years to develop. In the meantime, local management plans have been the main way groundwater and unregulated surface water is managed. After a review of WSPA processes, amendments to the Water Act were proposed in the Water Bill 2014, but the Bill did not proceed through parliament. In line with WfV action 8.9, DELWP intends to streamline the process and will propose amendments to the Act at the next opportunity.

Achieved and completed

Achieved: 2012–13

3.7

Improving information-sharing about climate variability and risks

This ongoing action contributes to improving information-sharing about climate variability and risks. Research reports by the South Eastern Australian Climate Initiative (SEACI) is available on its website. In 2013, DELWP, the Bureau of Meteorology and the CSIRO launched the Victorian Climate Initiative (VicCI); and its research, which covers climate change’s past impacts and projections for Victoria, is available on its website. In 2017, the Victorian Water and Climate Initiative was launched, which will look at past, current and future climate research. Communicating research results to the water sector is an important function of the initiative.

Achieved and ongoing

Ongoing

3.8

Promoting water conservation and
efficiency

This ongoing action promotes proactive demand management by supporting water corporations to continue to pursue water conservation and efficiency measures at various levels. The Millennium Drought highlighted the importance of water conservation, water use efficiency and robust planning of water supply and demand. Many initiatives and processes have since been developed, either along with or as a result of the WRSWS, and the Victorian Government continues to support them. They include voluntary water efficiency programs across Victoria, sustainable irrigation programs and irrigation development rules at the CMA level, and water supply and demand planning for urban water corporations. Sufficient progress on implementing the intent of this action has resulted in it being assessed as achieved. To ensure the intent of the action is retained, there are some components that are still ongoing (such as the development of reasonable domestic and stock use guidelines).

Achieved and ongoing

Ongoing

3.9

Streamlining the approval of section 67 storage construction licences

This action is to provide guidance and clarity for section 67 storage construction licence applicants and assessing authorities. At the time the WRSWS was published, applicants for section 67 works licences had to undertake various investigations and environmental assessments, which were often burdensome. DELWP is currently progressing options for providing improved guidance to RWCs about the assessment required for licence applications and to improve the application process.

Partly or not yet achieved

NA

3.10

Harvesting high flows

Action linked to: WfV 8.3 Investigate increased flexibility for taking water under winter‑fill licences. This action was to help explore more-adaptive water-extraction options through the capture of high flows outside the winter-fill period. DELWP investigated the option of providing access to high flows (outside the winter-fill period) and although diversion opportunities would be highly unreliable, guidelines are proposed to permit high-flow extraction on a case-by-case basis. WfV action 8.3 maintains this as a priority.

Being progressed through Water for Victoria or the Murray-Darling Basin Plan

NA

3.11

Extending the reticulated supply network

This ongoing action contributes to cost-effectively increasing water reliability and reducing the risks to water reliability by dry conditions. Expanding the reticulated water supply network is a cost-effective way to improve water reliability for communities close to existing supply networks that do not yet have access to those networks. Several extensions to reticulated networks have been proposed or approved (such as the South West Loddon Rural Water Supply Project, which is planned for completion by mid-2019, and the East Grampians Water Supply Project, which has been partially funded and is currently in the planning and approval stages).

Achieved and ongoing

Ongoing

3.12

Improving opportunities for water trading in groundwater and unregulated river systems

Action linked to: WfV 9.7 Develop trading rules in other water systems. This action was to support increased access to water by improving the ability to trade in groundwater and unregulated systems. The WRSWS helped put more information about water markets on the Victorian Water Register website, and Southern Rural Water established its WaterMatch website for buyers and sellers to contact each other. Updates to statutory management plans and the increased use of local management plans have improved the documentation of trading rules that reflect the areas to which they apply, but this has not always resulted in increased opportunities for trade. Water corporations have introduced intensity rules to reduce the cost of assessments for temporary and permanent transfers of groundwater licences. Take and use licensing policies were amended to permit temporary transfers for a period of up to five years in specified circumstances, which reduced administrative costs. DELWP reports annually on surface water trading and has released the Effectiveness of Victoria's Water Markets, the first statewide review of the effectiveness of Victoria’s water markets) and the first report on early trends in
groundwater trade. The previous report identified that the main requirements for further development of groundwater markets are the need to set caps, allocation of available water, refinement of management area boundaries and education of licence holders.
WfV action 9.7 maintains water trading as a priority by encouraging the refinement of trading rules and exploring opportunities to further develop markets in western Victoria, reviewing statewide unregulated surface water trading rules and developing policy to facilitate trade in groundwater systems.

Being progressed through Water for Victoria or the Murray-Darling Basin Plan

NA

3.13

Encouraging fit-for-purpose use of
alternative water supplies

Action linked to: WfV 5.1 Use diverse water sources to protect public spaces. This action was to explore the use of fit-for-purpose alternative water supplies to provide benefits to communities and reduce demand on potable water supplies. Alternative water sources — mainly recycled water, stormwater and desalinated water — can improve amenity and alleviate pressures on stressed water systems. Shortly after the WRSWS was published, water supply demand strategy guidelines to consider alternative water supply were published and such consideration continues to be a part of water corporations’ most recent urban water strategies.
Policies for the assessment and approval of local desalination systems and for brine disposal management were released in 2013.
WfV action 5.1 maintains it as a priority, and stormwater allocation is being discussed across Victoria in integrated water management forums.

Being progressed through Water for Victoria or the Murray-Darling Basin Plan

NA

3.14

Balanced approach to managing
unallocated water on unregulated rivers

This action is to provide an approach to managing unallocated water on unregulated rivers and streams, which balances the needs of consumptive users and the environment. The Victorian winter-fill Sustainable Diversion Limits have been updated and are applied when assessing applications for new surface water licences and transfers.

Partly or not yet achieved

NA

3.15

Staged release of unallocated water

This action is to provide more water to meet the needs of consumptive users in an environmentally-sensitive manner. The staged release of unallocated water has been planned to give consumptive users greater access to the water in a manner informed by a better understanding of the sustainable yield of the relevant water system. Unallocated water is to be released through auctions and tenders, so prices are based on the value of the resource. This occurs through the WaterBid platform, launched in 2015. Auctions have been held for water from the Hopkins and Gellibrand rivers and the Parwan GMA. A tender was used for allocation of some groundwater in the West Wimmera GMA. Further sales processes are planned in 2018–19 for the unincorporated groundwater resources of the Lower Tertiary Aquifer north of Warrnambool.

Partly or not yet achieved

NA

3.16

Updating water supply-demand strategies

This action contributed to effective and comprehensive water supply and demand planning to ensure the reliability of supply for urban and industrial users. The WRSWS articulates requirements to ensure urban water corporations’ water supply demand strategies follow planning best practices. These requirements, which DELWP set out in WSDS guidelines, include exploring alternative water sources, making agreements about service levels that meet community expectations and completing annual water supply outlooks.
Urban water corporations have developed water supply demand strategies for their regions, consistent with DELWP’s 2011 WSDS guidelines.
Urban water corporations continue to undertake strategic supply and demand planning. They revised their water supply-demand strategies as urban water strategies in 2017, as required by WfV.

Achieved and completed

Achieved: 2011-12

3.17

Review of the Victorian Uniform Drought Water Restriction Guidelines and Permanent Water Saving Rules

This action contributed to a better understanding of and more consistent guidance about Victorian water restrictions during drought and water scarcity. The Millennium Drought saw widespread water restrictions which had major consequences for Victorians. A review to better manage those impacts in the future was completed in 2011. The review’s main recommendations — simple permanent water savings rules, a revised set of four-stage water restrictions and a model water restriction by-law — have been implemented.

Achieved and completed

Achieved: 2011

3.18

Facilitating integrated water planning

This ongoing action encourages adaptive, innovative and productive water management as well as the use of alternative water sources (such as stormwater, desalinated water and recycled water). Integrating land use and water planning can improve the cost-effectiveness and adaptiveness of water resource management. Water supply demand strategy guidelines issued in 2011 require water corporations to work with local governments to integrate their planning, and the provision of water services is included in regional growth plans. Integrated water management forums are currently considering ways to improve the cost-effectiveness and integration of water management in their regions. Integrated water management forums have been established across the region including for the Great South Coast, Barwon and Central Highlands.

Achieved and ongoing

Ongoing

3.19

Promoting sustainable water management on dryland farms

This ongoing action contributes to promoting additional online resources for dryland farmers to manage water sustainably and mitigate climate risks. Historically, there has been less guidance for dryland farmers then for irrigators about efficient and sustainable water use. Since 2015, Agriculture Victoria has published guidance for farmers and will continue to do so.

Achieved and ongoing

Ongoing

3.20

Using consumptive water en route

This ongoing action contributes to creating benefits for consumptive users, the environment and local communities through innovative water system planning. Releases of water for consumptive use can be timed to also provide benefits for the environment, so long as timing alterations do not disadvantage consumptive users. In future, the social benefits derived from using water en route could also be considered. The VEWH annual seasonal watering plan addresses the use of consumptive water en route to provide environmental benefits. For example, delivery of the Glenelg River compensation flow —an entitlement held by GWMWater to provide for stock and domestic use downstream of Rocklands Reservoir — improves environmental outcomes. This is further supported by the increasing focus on recreational values (achieving shared benefits) as outlined in Chapter 6 of WfV.

Achieved and ongoing

Ongoing

3.21

Managing riparian land

Stock grazing and invasive weeds pose a continuous risk to riverine and riparian ecosystems. This ongoing action helps to protect waterway health and water quality by ensuring that riparian land is managed appropriately through activities such as fencing, revegetation, weed management and vegetation enhancement. Managing riparian land is a priority for CMAs, and specific management goals and targets in each region are set out in the regional waterway management strategies. To accelerate the implementation of riparian works, the state government launched the Regional Riparian Action Plan in 2015.
The action has ensured continued Environmental Contribution funding for works on a large scale to ensure there is ongoing provision of cost-effective, off-stream, stock watering infrastructure. In the Glenelg Hopkins CMA catchment for example, the Merri River restoration project is currently underway and has removed 3.8 km of woody weeds and planted more than 12,500 native trees, shrubs and grasses.

Achieved and ongoing

Ongoing

3.22

Changing environmental management
objectives

This ongoing action promotes adaptive management by ensuring that a process is in place to alter environmental objectives in response to long-term changes in water availability. Climate change will most likely make Victoria drier, and adapting to the changed conditions will probably need severe actions. The 2013 Victorian Waterway Management Strategy includes a framework for assessing and changing management objectives in regional waterway strategies, which CMAs develop, and which will inform the 15-year long-term water resource assessment due in 2019.

Achieved and ongoing

Ongoing

3.23

Considering water impacts when
undertaking planned burning and other
bushfire control measures

This ongoing action contributes to greater recognition, knowledge and consideration of the impact that bushfire management actions have on water quality and quantity. Bushfires can reduce water quality: for example, major bushfires in the Grampians during the Millennium Drought greatly increased sedimentation in Bellfield Reservoir. Since the WRSWS, some strategic bushfire plans have considered water quality. The Integrated Forest Ecosystem Research Program also continues to study bushfire impacts on forested catchments including on water quality and quantity. When prioritising planned burns, planners consider wildfire risks to water quality and quantity and how planned burns can reduce this risk.

Achieved and ongoing

Ongoing

3.24

Developing capacity for Aboriginal
involvement in water management

This ongoing action provides the opportunity for increased Aboriginal involvement in water management through activities that support capacity building and participation. Traditional Owners have managed the state’s water resources for millennia but in post-settlement times lack of resources and expertise has disadvantaged their capacity to do so. The WRSWS details capacity building programs for young Aboriginal leaders through universities, water corporations, CMAs and DELWP. These programs occurred as planned. Traditional Owner groups and Aboriginal Victorians still need to be involved in the management of water resources, beyond their involvement in consultation processes, through partnerships and employment. Chapter 6 of WfV also addresses this issue.

Achieved and ongoing

Ongoing

4.1

Revising groundwater management units

The action was completed through DELWP’s Secure Allocations, Future Entitlements project. The groundwater catchments that were introduced after the project reflected connected groundwater resources and flow systems. All groundwater resources are within a groundwater catchment, allowing for amalgamation of management areas (for example, West Wimmera GMA and South West Limestone GMA) and for management to be documented for all groundwater resources. As knowledge improves, there will be further changes to management areas to reduce administration and costs and to support market development.

Achieved and completed

Achieved: 2012

4.2

Managing short-term variability in
groundwater systems

This ongoing action set clear rules for water-sharing and improves the management of short-term variability in groundwater systems. Having a documented process to manage short-term variability in groundwater resources provides water users with certainty. For new management plans, or where plans have been updated, restriction rules (including for seasonal restrictions) are now documented as required.

Achieved and ongoing

Ongoing

4.3

Undeclaring water supply protection areas

The action was to undeclare water supply protection areas (WSPAs) without approved statutory management plans. Local management plans were prepared before a WSPA was undeclared. In some cases, when statutory management plans were reviewed, the WSPA was undeclared and the plan revoked because the risk to the resource did not justify continued management under a statutory management plan.

Achieved and completed

Achieved: 2011–12

4.4

Facilitating groundwater trading

The action is to facilitate groundwater trading. The WRSWS noted that developing groundwater trading could benefit users and the region by moving water across the system. However, incomplete statutory management plans for WSPAs and the region’s many small management areas were also identified as barriers to trading. To achieve the action, water corporations revised groundwater management unit boundaries, finalised statutory management plans or undeclared WSPAs that were no longer required and developed local management plans.
A 2018 report Effectiveness of Victoria’s Water Markets identified the main requirements for further development of groundwater markets are the need to set caps, allocation of available water, refinement of management area boundaries and education of licence holders. Progress on this action will be enhanced with the completion of actions 3.5 and 3.15.

Partly or not yet achieved

NA

4.5

Developing groundwater trade between South Australia and Victoria

This action is to facilitate groundwater trading opportunities between Victoria and South Australia. Many border areas overlie aquifers that extend into both states. While Victorian legislation already allows for interstate groundwater trade, the ability to trade is constrained by the incompatibility of entitlements between the states, the lack of a combined trading zone with a set permissible consumptive volume and the lack of an interstate agreement on how to account for interstate trade. Barriers to interstate trade are being addressed as a part of a review of the border groundwaters agreement. The Border Groundwaters Agreement Review Committee is considering these issues for interstate trade as a part of a review of the agreement.

Partly or not yet achieved

NA

4.6

Strategic groundwater resource assessments

This ongoing action contributes to improving knowledge about groundwater resources and identifies opportunities for further water to be made available with consideration of other users and the environment. To improve water supply for consumptive users, the WRSWS suggests that additional allocations of water from some groundwater systems may be possible. Groundwater resource assessments have been completed for the Dilwyn aquifer and the South West Limestone GMA in support of revised management plans.

Achieved and ongoing

Ongoing

4.7

Groundwater/ surface water interactions

This action contributed to ensuring that groundwater-dependent ecosystems and existing surface water users were protected from the impacts of increased groundwater extractions through the identification of areas of high groundwater/surface water interaction. Before the WRSWS, the impact of groundwater use on surface water was considered in the development of groundwater management plans and licence assessment, although approaches were inconsistent. Local management plans and statutory management plans now identify and manage significant groundwater / surface water interactions, to ensure groundwater use does not reduce the reliability of water for surface water users or for the environment. Resource-sharing guidance informs considerations about groundwater / and surface water
interactions and supports planning. Guidelines for groundwater licensing to protect high-value groundwater-dependent ecosystems have also been developed to manage the impact on these ecosystems.

Achieved and completed

Achieved: May 2017

4.8

Auctioning water where groundwater systems have additional capacity

This ongoing action contributes to increased availability of water for consumptive users while ensuring the sustainability of groundwater systems. A tender has been held to allocate groundwater in the West Wimmera. Further sales processes are planned in 2018–19 for the unincorporated groundwater resources of the Lower Tertiary Aquifer north of Warrnambool.

Achieved and ongoing

Ongoing

4.9

Upgrading and refining the monitoring network

This action contributed to a revised and improved groundwater monitoring network. Groundwater in Victoria is monitored mainly through the State Observation Bore Network (SOBN). When the WRSWS was published, groundwater monitoring infrastructure was inadequate in some areas. Who would fund the SOBN was also unclear, which put at risk the long-term maintenance and operation of the network. The SOBN was restructured soon after the WRSWS was published. The restructured SOBN is now a regional monitoring network with a clearly defined purpose for each site. The ageing monitoring infrastructure has been upgraded through a program of bore refurbishment works. Key stakeholders have been identified for each monitoring site, and the approach to future cost-sharing is to be negotiated. Annual expenditure on maintaining and developing the SOBN is currently being reported.

Achieved and completed

Achieved: 2013–14

4.10

Establishing secure, ongoing funding for future maintenance and renewal of the monitoring network

This ongoing action helps to ensure funding for maintaining and renewing Victoria’s monitoring network. A formal process was needed to determine an operating and maintenance program that shares costs on a beneficiary-pays basis. The forward works program is now submitted for consideration under routine budgetary processes. Costs are shared between DELWP (funded through the Environment Contribution Levy) and water corporations (funded through fees and charges approved through the Essential Services Commission’s pricing determination processes).
For groundwater, monitoring costs are covered by a partnership of water corporations, CMAs and DELWP. For surface water monitoring, costs are covered by a partnership of water corporations, CMAs, local governments, the Bureau of Meteorology, the Murray-Darling Basin Authority and DELWP.

Achieved and ongoing

Ongoing

4.11

Develop Ministerial guidelines for groundwater dependent ecosystems

This action contributed to improved knowledge about groundwater-dependent ecosystems and facilitated the integrated management of these systems. The WRSWS acknowledged there was insufficient understanding of groundwater-dependent ecosystems when it was published, so it recommended a risk-based approach to manage impacts on GDEs. Groundwater licensing guidelines to protect high-value impacts on GDEs were released in 2015 and outline the approach licensing authorities should take to consider risks.

Achieved and completed

Achieved: April 2015

4.12

Emerging technologies

This ongoing action assists in protecting the region’s groundwater resources. New technologies and industries that affect water resources and water users include geothermal energy and carbon capture and storage. DELWP and DEDJTR have studied the impacts of emerging technologies and industries through small-scale trials, and there have also been regional studies about coal seam gas and shale gas.

Achieved and ongoing

Ongoing

5.1

Statewide recording of water use by land use changes

This action is to improve understanding about the impact of land use changes on water use and the capability to estimate and report on these interactions. New technologies (such as satellite imagery and remote-sensing) are improving our understanding of how
changes in land use affect water resources, and the importance of this understanding is increasingly recognised. In 2011–12, the National Water Commission funded the (then) Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) to prepare the groundwork to regularly estimate and report on water use by land use.
This work included estimates of evapotranspiration, which is a key water use in vegetated landscapes. DSE contracted consultants to provide the tools and guidance to make evapotranspiration estimates, and they are now made annually using Victorian Land Use Information System land use data. However, water use estimates are only reported at a whole-of-basin scale, and they are not broken down by land use category or land use change. DELWP is now working to report water use by basin and land use category in future
Victorian Water Accounts.

Partly or not yet achieved

NA

5.2

Reviewing models and recommending methods for improving estimates of whole-of-catchment water use

This action contributed to the methods for estimating whole-of-catchment water use through a review of the models for estimating evapotranspiration. New methods for estimating evapotranspiration were emerging around the time the WRSWS was developed. In 2012, the National Water Commission completed its Accounting for all significant water uses project. The project compared and evaluated methods for estimating evapotranspiration. Findings from the project were used as part of the framework for improving estimates of evapotranspiration (see comments for action 5.1).

Achieved and completed

Achieved: March 2012

5.3

Amend the Water Act 1989 so that intensive management areas can be declared to control water-intensive land use changes in these areas

Action linked to: WfV 8.4 Better record and report on emerging significant uses of water. This action focused on amending the Water Act 1989 to enable the Minister for Water to declare and manage an area according to the process explained in the WRSWS. To better manage the impact of land use change on water resources, the WRSWS proposed a process to declare intensive management areas, based on the intensity of water stress, the significance of water-dependent values and the potential for land use changes to affect these values. Intensive management areas would have specific rules and management actions to ensure the integrity of high-value water systems are maintained. Amendments to the Act to declare intensive management areas were proposed in the Water Bill 2014, but the Bill did not
proceed through parliament.
WfV action 8.4 recognised the importance of water-intensive land use changes and proposes an approach to gain better information about the impacts of changes in land use on water resources. This work will inform the review of the WRSWS about the risks to water resources and whether action is required to mitigate them.

Being progressed through Water for Victoria or the Murray-Darling Basin Plan

NA

5.4

Guidelines for rapidly assessing new forestry development proposals

Action linked to: WfV 8.4 Better record and report on emerging significant uses of water. This action was for DELWP to develop guidelines to ensure applications for new forestry developments in a declared area could be assessed readily. Amendments to the Act to declare intensive management areas (explained above in action 5.3) did not occur, so the guidelines have not yet been developed. WfV action 8.4 maintains understanding the impacts of land use changes on water resources as a priority.

Being progressed through Water for Victoria or the Murray-Darling Basin Plan

NA

5.5

Considering cumulative impacts of land use in decisions about water use

Action linked to: WfV 8.4 Better record and report on emerging significant uses of water. This action was to gain an improved understanding about the impact of land use changes on water quantity and quality, to make more informed decisions about water use. The WRSWS recognised that land use changes from forestry and changing agricultural practices could make less water available and reduce water quality. Amendments to the Act to declare intensive management areas (explained above in action 5.3) did not occur, so this action has not progressed as planned. Action 8.4 of WfV maintains the emphasis on considering land use impacts on water availability by better
recording and reporting on significant uses of water in the Victorian Water Accounts.

Being progressed through Water for Victoria or the Murray-Darling Basin Plan

NA

5.6

Appointing regional committees to assess intensive management areas

Action linked to: WfV 8.4 Better record and report on emerging significant uses of water. This action was for the Minister for Water to appoint regional committees to assess intensive management areas. The WRSWS identifies areas that could be declared as intensive management areas — areas where managing the impacts of land use changes on water availability could be a high priority — and the action was to appoint regional committees to consider if these areas should be declared. Amendments to the Act to declare intensive management areas (explained above in action 5.3) did not occur, so this action has not progressed as planned.
WfV action 8.4 maintains the emphasis on considering land use impacts on water availability by better recording and reporting on significant uses of water in the Victorian Water Accounts.

Being progressed through Water for Victoria or the Murray-Darling Basin Plan

NA

5.7

Reviewing implications of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan for managing the water impacts of land use change

This ongoing action ensures alignment between the Victorian policy approach to managing the water impacts of land use changes and Murray-Darling Basin Plan requirements. As the comment on action 5.5 explains, the WRSWS requires the cumulative impacts of land use changes on water resources to be considered in water use decisions. The basin plan also requires these impacts to be considered through the Basin Plan’s water resource plans, and they have been incorporated into the Wimmera-Mallee Water Resource Plan. Amendments to the Act to implement this WRSWS action were proposed in the Water Bill 2014, but the Bill did not proceed through parliament. Subsequently, the approach in the basin plan was incorporated into the Wimmera-Mallee Water Resource Plan through the Wimmera-Mallee risk assessment.

Achieved and ongoing

Ongoing

6.1

Reviewing operation of the bulk entitlements

This action assessed how well the operation of the Wimmera Mallee Pipeline system met its storage management objectives and provided an opportunity to refine management of the system. A review of bulk entitlements in 2014, to which all stakeholders contributed, found the headworks system had largely been managed in line with the objectives of the Storage Management Rules for the Wimmera-Mallee System Headworks set in 2010. The review made several recommendations to improve the efficiency of the system.

Achieved and completed

Achieved: March 2014

6.2

Collaborating to improve efficiency

This ongoing action contributes to collaboration for managing and operating the supply system. A review of bulk entitlements operations in 2014, to which all stakeholders contributed, recommended periodic reviews with the next due to commence in 2019. The ongoing review requirement includes the participation of all stakeholders.

Achieved and ongoing

Ongoing

6.3

Sale of the growth water

This ongoing action contributes to the direction and process for making growth water available for sale to new and existing water users. This action provides for GWMWater to sell growth water — 20 GL water savings from the Wimmera Mallee Pipeline which is included in GWMWater’s entitlement and which is identified for regional development and farm diversification — to recover some of the cost of its investment in building the pipeline. GWMWater has sold about half the growth water it held to interested parties.
GWMWater reports sales of this water in its annual report. There are ongoing opportunities to sell growth water as a result of pipeline extensions and new pipeline systems (such as the South West Loddon Rural Water Supply Project and the East Grampians Water Supply Project).

Achieved and ongoing

Ongoing

6.4

Improving the efficiency of operating the supply system

This ongoing action contributes to improving the transparency and reporting of the operating supply system’s efficiency. Although the domestic and stock supply system is now a piped-delivery system, there are still losses in the headworks from evaporation and seepage. GWMWater monitors headworks losses and reports them on the Storage Manager website. Operational plans are developed annually and include considerations for managing headworks losses.

Achieved and ongoing

Ongoing

6.5

Considering more efficient headworks management

This action considered options for more efficiently managing the headworks. The action considered options for managing storages that do not contribute to efficient water capture, storage and delivery. In exploring storage options, the potential benefits to system operations and entitlement holders and implications for other users (such as recreational users) were investigated. Changes were subsequently made to storage management rules.

Achieved and completed

Achieved: 2014

6.6

Efficient operation of lakes Lonsdale and Toolondo

This action helped to ensure the efficient operation of Lake Lonsdale and Lake Toolondo through the development of storage management rules. These lakes have the potential for efficient storage management, as they can store water in wet years for use in later years. They also have high evaporation losses. Storage management rules for the two lakes were developed with stakeholders, were refined in the bulk entitlement review and are available on the Storage Manager website.

Achieved and completed

Achieved: September 2014

6.7

Sharing any additional water savings in the supply system

This ongoing action contributes to ensuring additional water savings from the supply system are shared equitably. Additional water savings have been managed in line with the WRSWS: they are shared by the organisations that invest in works; the rights of existing entitlement holders are protected; and the effects on third parties are evaluated and addressed. The Wimmera Irrigation District was decommissioned in line with the principles in the WRSWS. The decommissioning resulted in the saving of 23 GL of long-term cap equivalent, which was purchased by the Commonwealth Government. The water entitlement is now held by the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder.

Achieved and ongoing

Ongoing

6.8

Managing the Wimmera-Glenelg environmental entitlement

This ongoing action contributes to establishing a framework for managing the Wimmera and Glenelg Rivers Environmental Entitlement 2010. When the WRSWS was developed, people along the Glenelg River were concerned about the equitable, objective and transparent management of the entitlement. The entitlement was transferred to the VEWH on its creation in 2011 and a consideration of the benefits of separating the entitlements was undertaken during the Bulk Entitlement Operations Review in 2014. It was decided to keep it as a single entitlement, to maintain the flexibility required to achieve the best environmental outcomes. The single environmental entitlement is held and managed by VEWH and its use is prioritised to deliver environmental outcomes. This fully addresses the intent and specifics of the action described in the SWS.

Achieved and ongoing

Ongoing

6.9

Developing rules for diverting river flows for recreation in wet years

This action helped to allow for water to be managed to enhance recreational benefits in wet years. The storage management rules were revised in line with the principles of WRSWS policy 6.3.

Achieved and completed

Achieved: March 2014

7.1

Revised caps on the amount of unallocated surface water available for winter-fill diversions in Otways catchments

This action is to revise the caps on the amount of unallocated surface water available for winter-fill diversions. About 3.5 GL of unallocated water in the Otway catchments is available for winter-fill diversion under the existing sustainable diversion limit. This water has not been allocated in the Otway catchment because there has been insufficient demand. The PCV Surface Water Order 2010 will be updated to reflect these changes. The amount of water available for new entitlements in the Otways catchments is to be reviewed as part of the WRSWS review process.

Partly or not yet achieved

NA

7.2

Revising urban water supply-demand strategies

This action contributed to effective and comprehensive water supply and demand planning to ensure the reliability of supply for urban and industrial users. Barwon Water and Wannon Water developed water supply-demand strategies in 2012. WfV now requires Victoria’s urban water corporations to develop urban water strategies, which provide detailed, 50-year forecasts of demand, and supply options. Urban water strategies are to be based on the government’s climate guidelines, which set out essential data and advice about how to assess the impact of climate change on water supplies. The water corporations revised their water supply-demand strategies as urban water strategies in 2017.

Achieved and completed

Achieved: 2012, 2017

7.3

Improving environmental flows in the Gellibrand River

This action is working towards improving environmental flows in the Gellibrand River. Wannon Water, DELWP and the Corangamite CMA are implementing the action through the Gellibrand Summer Flows Improvement Project. The results of several completed investigations are available on Wannon Water’s website, and investigations into improving flows in the river are continuing. The Gellibrand River has high environmental values, and it is a major source of water for urban communities and agriculture. Low flows in summer, particularly in dry years, put the river’s ecological values at risk.
Since the WRSWS was developed, there has been increased community concern about acid sulfate soils. A groundwater substitution option at the South Otway Pump site has been shown as unlikely to be viable, given the risk of its environmental impact and the yield and quality of the groundwater.
Wannon Water, in partnership with Corangamite CMA, has updated its cost estimates for all the augmentation options using information it gained when investigating the groundwater substitution option and revisiting its options analysis. Other augmentation options were also investigated (such as building an off-stream, winter-fill storage or extracting groundwater from the Curdievale borefield). The report will be publicly available soon.
Wannon Water has established a stakeholder reference group to provide an opportunity for the community to contribute and so improve the project’s outcomes.

Partly or not yet achieved

NA

7.4

Investing in integrated catchment management to improve Otway waterways

This ongoing action helps protect waterway health and water quality by ensuring that the catchment is managed appropriately through activities such as fencing, revegetation, weed management and vegetation enhancement. These complementary works help increase the benefits from delivering water for the environment. CMAs implement integrated catchment management works by implementing their catchment management strategies and regional waterway management strategies. Integrated catchment and waterway management works are funded largely through the Environmental Contribution, and information about achievements is published annually.

Achieved and ongoing

Ongoing

8.1

Revised caps on the amount of unallocated surface water available for winter-fill diversions in the South-west Coast

This action is to revise the caps on the amount of unallocated surface water available for winter-fill diversions. About 5 GL of unallocated water in the south-west catchments has been made available for winter-fill diversion. This water has been allocated but the PCV Surface Water Order 2010 will be updated to reflect these changes. The amount of water available for new entitlements in the South-west Coast is to be reviewed as part of the WRSWS review process.

Partly or not yet achieved

NA

8.2

Revising urban water supply-demand strategies

This action contributed to effective and comprehensive water supply and demand planning to ensure the reliability of supply for urban and industrial users. Wannon Water developed a water supply-demand strategy in 2012. Action 7.2 above explains WfV’s current requirements for urban water strategies, and Wannon Water revised its water supply-demand strategy as an urban water strategy in 2017.

Achieved and completed

Achieved: 2012, 2017

8.3

Preserving cultural values of Lake Condah

This action is working towards preserving the cultural values of Lake Condah. Lake Condah is an important cultural site for the Gunditjmara people and restoring the lake has been a goal since 2002. In 2010, a weir was built to improve flows to the lake and counteract historical draining. This action formalises water-sharing arrangements between Lake Condah and other water users. The local management plan does not specify the relationship between the Lake Condah restoration project and other water users: the restoration plan relies on using and protecting winter flows, whereas annual licence holders in the system most likely access summer flows due to the storage requirement for winter flows.

Partly or not yet achieved

NA

8.4

Improved environmental flows for the Merri River

This action contributed to formalising the diversion rules for the Merri River through a local management plan to improve environmental flows. Since 1998–99, flows in the Merri River have been managed through a draft streamflow management plan. The plan recognised the need for additional environmental flows, and restrictions and bans on water extraction were implemented. A local management plan for the Merri River has also been developed. It includes maintaining a minimum summer flow, a trigger flow for bans on summer diversions and a trigger for bans on winter diversions. The new plan will provide greater flexibility for upstream water users and provide environmental benefits.

Achieved and completed

Achieved: October 2016

8.5

Investing in integrated catchment management to improve South-west waterways

This ongoing action helps protect waterway health and water quality by ensuring that the catchment is managed appropriately through activities such as fencing, revegetation, weed management and vegetation enhancement. These complementary works help increase the benefits from delivering water for the environment. CMAs implement integrated catchment management works by implementing their catchment management strategies and regional waterway management strategies. Integrated catchment management works are funded largely through the Environmental Contribution, and information about achievements is published annually in CMAs’ annual reports.

Achieved and ongoing

Ongoing

9.1

Revising urban water supply-demand strategies

This action contributed to effective and comprehensive water supply and demand planning to ensure the reliability of supply for urban and industrial users. Wannon Water, Barwon Water, Central Highlands Water and GWMWater developed water supply-demand strategies in 2012. Action 7.2 explains WfV’s current requirements for urban water strategies, and the water corporations revised their water supply-demand strategies as urban water strategies in 2017.

Achieved and completed

Achieved: 2011, 2012, 2017

9.2

Restoring Lake Corangamite

Lake Corangamite is the largest permanent lake in Australia and was listed under the Ramsar Convention in 1982. In the 1950s, the Woady Yaloak Diversion scheme was built to transfer water from the lake to the Barwon River to alleviate flooding on adjacent freehold land. The scheme reduced flooding issues as intended but it also led to more-frequent low water levels in the lake and increased the lake’s salinity, particularly during the Millennium Drought. To date, the Cundare Barrage outlet has been enlarged and lowered, and the drainage scheme assets have been maintained at a low operational level. Community concern about increased flood risk has slowed the process for amending the operating rules. Lake Corangamite is unlikely to be fully restored to its pre-1950s condition, but the action will continue to
improve its condition.
In 2022 Corangamite CMA plans to review the operation and continuation of the Woady Yaloak Diversion Scheme, after analysing the environmental impact of the system’s operation and predicted and observed climate patterns.

Partly or not yet achieved

NA

9.3

Investing in integrated catchment management to improve Western District waterways

This ongoing action helps to protect waterway health and water quality by ensuring that the catchment is managed appropriately through activities such as fencing, revegetation, weed management and vegetation enhancement. These complementary works help increase the benefits from delivering water for the environment. CMAs implement integrated catchment management works by implementing their catchment management strategies and regional waterway management strategies. Integrated catchment management works are funded largely through the Environmental Contribution, and information about achievements is published annually in CMAs’ annual reports.

Achieved and ongoing

Ongoing

10.1

Revising urban water supply-demand strategies

This action contributed to effective and comprehensive water supply and demand planning to ensure the reliability of supply for urban and industrial users. Coliban Water, Central Highlands Water and GWMWater developed water supply-demand strategies in 2012. Action 7.2 explains WfV’s current requirements for urban water strategies, and the water corporations revised their water supply-demand strategies as urban water strategies in 2017.

Achieved and completed

Achieved: 2011, 2012, 2017

10.2

Management of the Upper Wimmera River

This action contributed to protecting the streamflows in the Upper Wimmera River by formalising current rules and setting caps on water use. The environmental values of the unregulated upper Wimmera River were stressed throughout the Millennium Drought, mainly due to flow stress from domestic and stock farm dams. A management plan for the Wimmera River that protects streamflows by formalising water-sharing rules was approved in March 2018.

Achieved and completed

Achieved: March 2018

10.3

Investing in integrated catchment management to improve waterways

This ongoing action helps to protect waterway health and water quality by ensuring that the catchment is managed appropriately through activities such as fencing, revegetation, weed management and vegetation enhancement. These complementary works help increase the benefits from delivering water for the environment. CMAs implement integrated catchment management works by implementing their catchment management strategies and regional waterway management strategies. Integrated catchment management works are funded largely through the Environmental Contribution, and information about achievements is published annually in CMAs’ annual reports.

Achieved and ongoing

Ongoing

10.4

Development and implementation of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan in the Wimmera and Mallee catchments

Action linked to: Murray-Darling Basin Plan: Wimmera-Mallee Water Resource Plan.  This action was to assist with the development and implementation of the Murray Darling Basin Plan in the Wimmera and Mallee catchments. While the Wimmera, Avon and Richardson rivers don’t flow to the River Murray, the basin plan applies to these catchments. The Victorian Government has worked with the Murray-Darling Basin Authority to ensure elements of the plan that apply to the Western Region can be implemented with minimal disruption to water users.
The Victorian Government submitted the Wimmera-Mallee Water Resource Plan to the MDBA for formal assessment on 29 June 2018. The MDBA will assess the plan and make a recommendation to the Commonwealth Minister for Agriculture and Natural Resources as to whether the plan should be accredited. The plan shows how Victoria will comply with sustainable diversion limits on the volume of surface water and groundwater that can be taken and used in catchments from 1 July 2019.

Being progressed through Water for Victoria or the Murray-Darling Basin Plan

NA

10.5

Protecting flows in the Millicent Coast Basin

This ongoing action contributes to protect flows in the Millicent Coast Basin. The Millicent Coast Basin is in the far west of Victoria and extends across the border into South Australia. The basin has low rainfall and unreliable streamflows. As such, there is a heavy reliance on groundwater. When the WRSWS was developed, many people were concerned that plantation forestry in the upper catchment could reduce water resource availability. Consequently, GWMWater and Southern Rural Water applied a moratorium on issuing new surface water entitlements in the basin.

Achieved and ongoing

Ongoing

Five-yearly assessment

The five-yearly assessment of the Western Region Sustainable Water Strategy (2011) was conducted in collaboration with key stakeholders involved in the development and implementation of the Strategy. The assessment updates catchment inflow data, determines the status of each action, consolidates feedback about the process for development and implementation of the strategy and makes recommendations to support the review of the SWS.