The Minister for Water has received applications from the Victorian Environmental Water Holder (VEWH) to amend the River Murray Flora and Fauna Bulk Entitlement and the Goulburn River and Campaspe River environmental entitlements (EEs). This is to ensure the volume of water entitlement issued to the Water Holder from the Connections Project matches the commitments to return 279 GL to the environment. The changes are needed following a review of the entitlements issued to environmental beneficiaries because changes to the long-term diversion limit equivalent factors updated in August 2019.

Application overview:

The VEWH has applied to amend the following bulk and environmental entitlements:

  • Bulk Entitlement (River Murray – Flora and Fauna) Conversion Order 1999
  • Goulburn River Environmental Entitlement 2010
  • Campaspe River Environmental Entitlement 2013

Frequently asked questions

An environmental entitlement is a right to water granted to the Victorian Environmental Water Holder (VEWH) to maintain an environmental water reserve or improve the environmental values and health of the water ecosystems and other users depending on the condition of the environment.

The Water (Resource Management) Act 2005 amended the Water Act 1989 and created the legal foundation for water to be set aside to maintain the environmental values of rivers and streams.

The Minister for Water issues environmental entitlements under the Act to manage water to meet needs like fish spawning triggers or maintaining critical habitats during drought.

A bulk entitlement is a legal right to water granted by the Minister for Water under Part 4, Division 1 of the Water Act 1989 (the Act).

Bulk entitlements are legal instruments mainly held by water corporations that set out how much water the holder is entitled to take to supply its customers and the conditions around taking that water.

The VEWH hold a bulk entitlement in the Murray system.

The GMW Connections Project is Australia’s largest irrigation modernisation project and the most significant infrastructure upgrade in northern Victoria’s 100-year history.

The project has now delivered works to achieve the long-term 429 gigalitres (GL) of water recovery for farms in Northern Victoria and the environment. Since then, the Project has been finalising its work scope and has exceeded its water recovery target.

It is a key part of Victoria’s contribution to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan contributing 10 % (279 GL long term average annual yield (LTAAY) water savings) of the total water recovery required. The majority of environmental water recovery is being provided to protect and improve Victoria’s waterway health to support fish, vegetation and water quality.

Before the project started, irrigation infrastructure in the region lost around 900 GL each year from leakage, seepage, evaporation and poor measurement.

To successfully deliver this complex project, we give equal consideration to the environment, cultural heritage, community, irrigators and a range of individual infrastructure delivery solutions.

The Victorian and Australian governments are funding this $2 billion-dollar project.

Water entitlements issued to the CEWH and the VEWH from the Connections Project were issued between 2013 and 2019. Like all Basin Plan water recovery, long-term diversion limit equivalence (LTDLE) factors were used to determine the entitlement volumes to be issued.

In 2019 – to improve the estimates of water recovery under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, the Murray-Darling Basin Authority updated long-term Diversion Limit Equivalence (LTDLE) factors. Because the changes were finalised after the environment’s share was issued, the mix of entitlements held by the VEWH needs to be adjusted to ensure that the entitlements held reflect the water recovered from the Connections project using the most up-to-date estimates. These changes do not affect the amount of water recovered attributed to the VEWH.

Next Steps

The Minister of Water will consider the application from the Victorian Environmental Water Holder, taking into account the requirements of the Water Act 1989. Subject to the Minister for Water approval, the bulk and environmental entitlement amendments will come into effect when they are published in the Victorian Government Gazette.

More information and submissions

Further information on the application can be obtained from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning Customer Service Centre on 136 186 or at:  www.water.vic.gov.au/planning-and-entitlements/bulk-entitlements and www.water.vic.gov.au/planning-and-entitlements/victorias-entitlement-framework/environmental-entitlements

Page last updated: 21/04/22