We are using improved and up-to-date knowledge to understand the how and why of climate change, and its effects on the security and condition of our water.
Our longterm assessment of water resources employs a world-first approach, using the latest data and modelling to predict the availability of water for consumers and the environment, and effects on waterway health.
We are gathering and spreading information to enable water to be shared, used and traded sustainably. The vital network of groundwater bores across Victoria is being renewed to secure the part of the water cycle that we can’t see, and we are strengthening compliance for fair sharing of rights to water.
Upgrading the monitoring of our groundwater
The State Observation Bore Network collects vital information on groundwater levels across Victoria to show how groundwater is responding to changes in climate and pumping activity. This information is used to assess the quantity and potential risks and impacts of using the resource.
Bore refurbishment works are upgrading the ageing groundwater monitoring infrastructure to improve the quality and accuracy of data, and to protect the groundwater from any risks of contamination caused by old bores in poor condition. In 2017-18, 5000 metres of downhole bore refurbishment works were done at 15 sites across south-west Victoria.
The corroded steel-cased bores are re-lined with new fibreglass casing and new cement is injected to re-seal the bore. Refurbishment can be completed at less than 10 per cent of the cost of drilling a new bore.
“The Regional Water Monitoring Partnerships (RWMP) provide a great opportunity for collaboration between all organisations with a common interest in gathering and using information about water resources across Victoria. This unique approach to water monitoring has reduced duplication of effort and is driving the uptake of new monitoring technologies that improve data collection efficiency while reducing monitoring costs in the longer term.“ Greg McKenzie, Chair of the Northern RWMP
Long-term water resource assessment
In a first for Victoria, a long-term water resource assessment is underway to see how long-term water availability has changed for farms, cities, towns and the environment. The assessment will also examine whether waterway health has deteriorated because of changes to water flows.
Because a long- term water assessment has never been done before, there are no existing processes, systems or methods we can use. The Victorian Government has been working with water corporations, catchment management authorities and a technical advisory group of scientists to make sure we are using the best available data, modelling and information, and that our method suits the purpose of the assessment.
The draft technical assessment will be independently reviewed in early 2019 and the public will be consulted on the findings in the first half of 2019. Depending on the outcomes of the technical assessment, further review may be required to determine how to restore the balance between the environment and the allocation of water to people and industries consuming water.
Strengthening and improving compliance
Victoria’s water entitlement and compliance system is considered one of the strongest in Australia, as confirmed in a review by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.
In 2018, legislation was introduced into the Victorian Parliament to further strengthen requirements for the legal take and use of water. The changes are designed to provide additional protection to both entitlement holders and waterways and catchments, and to reflect community expectations of fairness.
The planned changes will boost Victoria’s compliance system by introducing tougher penalties for intentional water theft and better enforcement measures. It is proposed that the maximum penalty for intentional water theft be increased to $950,000 for agricultural companies, and to $190,000 for individuals. The legislation will also enable water corporations to issue penalty infringement notices for less serious water offences.
The Bill will deliver on Water for Victoria pledges to modernise enforcement of the relevant provisions of the Water Act 1989, and to further enshrine Aboriginal and recreational water values into water management.