The updated Recreational Areas Regulations will support ongoing enjoyment of Victoria’s water storages by the public, while ensuring the safety of visitors and the protection of water quality, water corporation facilities, Aboriginal cultural heritage, and environmental values.

DELWP commenced work on updating regulations for Recreational Areas managed by Water Corporations under the Water Act 1989 in December 2021. The updated regulations are needed to replace the Model by-law: Recreational Areas (2012) which was due to expire in October 2022.

The Minister for Water extended the existing Model by-law for 12 months in August 2022 to enable time for a thorough community consultation process, and to ensure Water Corporations could continue managing recreational areas while the new regulations are developed. The new regulations are expected to be in place by mid-2023.

The updated regulations will apply to 40 of Victoria’s water storages, which have been determined as Recreational Areas under the Water Act 1989. Water Corporations manage these storages to supply water for irrigation, urban, rural and environmental use while also providing a broad range of opportunities for recreation and tourism. Many are high visitation sites with significant infrastructure for camping, boating, fishing, picnics and barbecues.

Some Recreational Areas are important sites of cultural heritage and are of significance to Traditional Owners. They also perform environmental functions, such as providing habitat for plant and animal species and are important sites for fire management and catchment protection.

It is anticipated that the new regulations will remain largely consistent with what has been in place to date, with some improvements to provisions to ensure consistency with other legislation, including the introduction of Penalty Infringement Notices (PINs).

Water corporation officers will be responsible for monitoring and enforcing the proposed regulations, as currently occurs at sites where water corporations have the Model by-law in place.

Aerial shot of Lake Eildon

The updated regulations will continue to facilitate safe public access to Recreational Areas like Lake Eildon.

Consultation

DELWP established a Working Group in July 2021 with representatives from seven Water Corporations that manage water storages with significant levels of public visitation and recreation in their region. The Working Group’s function is to provide information to inform policy directions and provide input and feedback as the regulations are drafted.

DELWP is also undertaking targeted consultation with Traditional Owners, statutory authorities, other relevant areas of DELWP and with other Victorian Government departments during the development of the consultation draft of the regulations.

Public information sessions

To assist DELWP to finalise the update of the regulations, DELWP will be running a number of online information sessions in January/February 2023 to provide interested groups and the public with information about the updated regulations and to answer your questions.

If you would like to register your interest to attend one of the online information sessions, please email your details to the Recreational Values team at recreational.water@delwp.vic.gov.au.

The Recreational Values team will be in contact with details of the information sessions once dates have been confirmed. More information on how you can provide feedback on the updated Recreational Area Regulations will be available via EngageVIC in early 2023.

Alignment with review and renewal of the Houseboat Regulations

DELWP has also commenced work to review and remake the Water (Lake Eildon Recreation Area) (Houseboats) Regulations 2013 before they sunset on 30 June 2023. This applies to the Lake Eildon Recreational Area.

DELWP’s work is largely focussed on exploring effective and practical ways to improve greywater management on houseboats, though opportunities to modernise and streamline other elements of the regulations are also being explored.

DELWP is working closely to integrate any requirements for houseboats between both regulations and will work together on community consultation on all proposed new regulations.

If you would like more information on the updated Houseboat Regulations, please contact the project team rural.water@delwp.vic.gov.au

Resources and further information

Page last updated: 10/10/22