In January 2011 regulations were introduced that required landholders in rural residential areas to register their dam with their rural water corporation.  

The government decided to allow these regulations to sunset from 30 November 2017.

This means that landholders in rural residential areas and on properties smaller than 8 hectares will no longer be required to pay a registration fee or notify their local water corporation when they build or significantly alter a dam.

Why the change?

The government has decided not to renew Part 5 of these regulations in the context of broader strategic reform in the water industry following the release of Water for Victoria and the associated long-term direction for managing Victoria’s precious water resources.  

A simpler, lower cost and more efficient way of addressing the impact of small farm dams on the environment and other users is being investigated as part of Action 8.4 of Water for Victoria.  This action is designed to ensure better recording, monitoring and accounting of significant uses of water.  

Water for Victoria sets a new long-term direction for managing our precious water resources as we deal with the impacts of climate change and a growing population.  It builds on past experiences in managing water and makes the leap into new, smarter ways of doing more with less.

More information

The regulations

The Water (Resource Management) Amendment Regulations 2010 came into effect on 1 January 2011. These regulations were due to sunset on 30 June 2017, but were extended until 30 November 2017. The government has decided not to renew Part 5 of these regulations in the context of broader strategic reform in the water industry following the release of Water for Victoria and the associated new long-term direction for managing Victoria’s precious water resources.

What did the regulations do?

Part 5 of the regulations required persons occupying land within a rural residential area to give written notice to the Minister prior to constructing or altering private dams.  The rural water corporations and Melbourne Water managed the process for dam registration as delegates for the Minister.  

A rural residential area is defined as follows:

Rural residential area means any land that is—

(a) within the Rural Living Zone, Green Wedge Zone or a residential zone within the meaning of the Victoria Planning Provisions, approved under Part 1A of the Planning and Environment Act 1987; and

(b) 8 hectares or smaller in size.

Why were the regulations introduced?

The farm dams regulation was introduced following the release of the Northern Region Sustainable Water Strategy in 2009, which announced the government’s policy to improve the understanding and management of domestic and stock water use.  At that time, there was concern about the impact a proliferation of farm dams in peri-urban areas could have on existing water users and the environment.  

The notification requirement was intended to ensure a better understanding of the impact of farm dams in peri-urban areas on water resources, and to inform future decisions on whether more active management was required to protect existing water users and the environment.  The regulation was also intended to improve information sharing between landowners and water corporations before dams were constructed, including advice on dam safety and alternative water supply options.

Why is Part 5 of the regulations not being renewed?

Part 5 of the regulations is not being renewed as a more comprehensive way of addressing the impacts of dam construction on the environment and water resource availability are being investigated in the context of broader strategic reform following the release of Water for Victoria.

There has also been relatively low compliance with the regulation and, with improvements in technology and data collection, viable alternative methods to collect data on dams exist.  For example, GPS data collection and aerial surveys are viable alternatives to the registration scheme.  These methods could be targeted to specific areas where there is high demand for water resources and/or the environment is stressed.

What impact will removal of Part 5 of the regulations have on landholders and rural water corporations?

Removing the regulation has removed the compliance burden on landholders and rural water corporations. Landholders in rural residential areas and on properties smaller than 8 hectares will no longer be required to pay a registration fee or notifiy their local water corporation.

Does this mean monitoring farm dams is no longer important?

No.  A more comprehensive way of addressing the impact of dam small farm dams on the environment and other users is being investigated as part of Action 8.4 of Water for Victoria.  This action is designed to ensure better recording, monitoring and accounting of significant uses of water.  

Water for Victoria sets a new long-term direction for managing our precious water resources as we deal with the impacts of climate change and a growing population.  It builds on past experience in managing water and makes the leap into new, smarter ways of doing more with less.

I’ve already registered my dam what does this mean for me?

The registration fee charged by the rural water corporations was, on average $81, to register the proposed construction or alteration of a private dam.  The impact of compliance was minimal and no ongoing fees will be charged.

Page last updated: 30/11/2018