Licences required for domestic and stock waterway diversions

A take and use licence to divert water from a waterway for domestic and stock purposes may be required if there is Crown land frontage or other private land between your property and a waterway.

A take and use licence to divert water from a waterway may not be required if you have a private right, which exists under these circumstances:

  • your property title includes the waterway, or
  • your property title directly fronts the waterway, or
  • you lease Crown land fronting the waterway, or
  • the property resulted from subdivision of a property (since 1989).

If you are unsure whether you have a private right talk to your local Rural Water Corporation (listed below).

Under the Water Act 1989, a works licence is required to construct, alter, operate, remove or decommission works used to divert water from a waterway.

To divert water from a waterway for domestic and stock use you may require one or more of the following licences:

  • Take and use licence
  • Works licence (for pumps and pipes).
Location of LandPrivate rights existTake and use licenceWorks licence
Fronts a waterwayYesNoYes
Fronts a waterwayNoYesYes
Does not front a waterwayn/aYesYes
Does not front a waterwayn/aYesYes

To obtain a licence

All catchments in Victoria have caps on water diversions. Most are already fully allocated, and as a result no new licences can be issued. If you do not have a private right and you are in a catchment that is fully allocated, you need a take and use licence (entitlement) and this will need to be traded (permanently or temporarily) from an existing entitlement holder. Visit the Water Register’s Take and use licence trading webpage for more information.

For a works licence you must apply to your local Rural Water Corporation (listed below).

Contact your local Rural Water Corporation before applying for a take and use or works licence:

Take and use & works licence application requirements

To apply for a take and use and/or works licence you may be required to:

  • notify neighbours of your application in writing and by advertising in your local newspapers
  • provide a copy of the current Certificate of Title(s) (see Registered Titles search)
  • provide a map of the proposed works and pumps on your property
  • provide an engineering design plan detailing the diversion offtake, pumps, pipelines and any storage works existing or proposed including:
    • the nominated contractor responsible for the design and installation of pump and offtake equipment, and
  • in cases where you propose to occupy or cross Crown land with works or pipelines, you must provide evidence of relevant permissions and consent from the land manager (such as the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning; Registered Aboriginal Parties or other).

These conditions are important to ensure any impacts due to works on waterways and surrounding areas are minimised, protecting the environment and streamflow. Please note: a works licence must be approved and obtained prior to starting any work. Works licences may also be subject to an application fee and validity period.

What to expect

Once you lodge your application with your local Rural Water Corporation they will:

  • notify you that the application has been received
  • advise you of the outcome of your application, once it has been assessed.

Compliance

  • You cannot take water before a works licence is issued.
  • Licence conditions must be met.
  • You must comply with advertised bans and restrictions.

Riparian management licences

A riparian management licence is a licence for Crown land water frontages which recognises that all or part of the frontage is being managed by a licensee to protect and improve the riparian environment (for example, it is fenced out and supporting native vegetation).

Obtaining a riparian management licence provides the following benefits:

  • It allows you (the landholder) to obtain a take and use licence through your local Rural Water Corporation to maintain access to water, even if frontage is fenced.
  • You may be eligible for reduced take and use licence fees if fencing is undertaken with a Catchment Management Authority.
  • Controlled grazing may be permitted on the riparian land (if approved by your local Catchment Management Authority or DELWP)
  • In Catchment Management Authority priority areas, you may be eligible for incentives for riparian works (for example, for fencing, revegetation and off-stream stock watering) if you agree to obtain a riparian management licence.

If you have completed works on Crown land water frontage and think you are eligible for a riparian management licence, contact your local DELWP regional office by calling our Customer Service Centre on 136 186 to apply.

More information can be found in our riparian management licences factsheet.

A riparian management licence is typically generated through the conversion of an existing grazing licence as part of an agreement between a landholder and a Catchment Management Authority (CMA) for undertaking riparian protection and improvement works, such as fencing and revegetation.

The long-term management responsibilities agreed to by the landholder in the CMA agreement are incorporated as special conditions into a riparian management licence.

These special conditions remain with the licence which may be transferred if the adjacent private land changes hands. Licences are generally renewed every five years. Many projects on Crown land that include fencing to manage stock access to a waterway qualify for a riparian management licence (for example, CMA, Landcare or privately-funded projects).

Domestic and stock use

in relation to water, means use for —

(a) household purposes; or

(b) watering of animals kept as pets; or

(c) watering of cattle or other stock; or

(ca) in the case of the curtilage of a house and any outbuilding, watering an area not exceeding 1.2 hectares for fire prevention purposes with water obtained from a spring or soak or water from a dam; or

(d) irrigation of a kitchen garden — but does not include use for dairies, piggeries, feed lots, poultry or any other intensive or commercial use

Waterway

(a) a river, creek, stream or watercourse; or
(b) a natural channel in which water regularly flows, whether or not the flow is continuous; or

(c) a channel formed wholly or partly by the alteration or relocation of a waterway as described in paragraph (a) or (b); or

(d) a lake, lagoon, swamp or marsh, being—

(i) a natural collection of water (other than water collected and contained in a private dam or a natural depression on private land) into or through or out of which a current that forms the whole or part of the flow of a river, creek, stream or watercourse passes, whether or not the flow is continuous; or

(ii) a collection of water (other than water collected and contained in a private dam or a natural depression on private land) that the Governor in Council declares under section 4(1) to be a lake, lagoon, swamp or marsh; or

(e) land on which, as a result of works constructed on a waterway as described in paragraph (a), (b) or (c), water collects regularly, whether or not the collection is continuous; or

(f) land which is regularly covered by water from a waterway as described in paragraph (a), (b), (c), (d) or (e) but does not include any artificial channel or work which diverts water away from such a waterway; or

(g) if any land described in paragraph (f) forms part of a slope rising from the waterway to a definite lip, the land up to that lip

Works

includes—

(a) reservoirs, dams, bores, channels, sewers, drains, pipes, conduits, fire plugs, machinery, equipment and apparatus, whether on, above or under land; and

(b) works described in section 10 (of the Act), whether on, above or under land; and

(c) fencing

Page last updated: 13/08/19