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Find out more about the key mechanisms that underpin groundwater management in Victoria.

Take and use licences

Licences are issued to protect the rights of licence holders, ensure that water is shared among users, and to ensure that environmental requirements are protected. For more information on take and use licenses visit the Victorian Water Register website.

Monitoring and metering

Monitoring of groundwater levels provides information on the condition of the resource and enables the resource manager to track groundwater level responses to rainfall and extractions.

The water levels over 1,400 observation bores across the state are regularly monitored. Over a third of these sites are now monitored with telemetry systems, which provide live monitoring data of groundwater levels. Monitoring salinity and chemistry help us understand the water's suitability for use.

For groundwater data visit the Water Measurement Information System website.

The metering of licensed groundwater extraction supports responsible groundwater management.Groundwater management units

Groundwater Management Units (GMU) define areas where specific rules are used to manage the resource according to the needs of groundwater users and the environment. There are 2 types of Groundwater Management Units: Water Supply Protection Areas, and Groundwater Management Areas.

Water supply protection areas

A Water supply protection area is an area declared under the Water Act 1989 to protect the groundwater or surface water resources through the development of a statutory management plan.

Groundwater management areas

A Groundwater management area (GMA) is an area where groundwater has been intensively developed or has the potential to be. GMAs have boundaries defined for the purposes of setting a PCV for ongoing management.

Permissible consumptive volumes (PCVs)

A PCV is a cap set by the Minister for Water. It is the maximum volume of water that can be allocated for consumptive purposes in an area or from a water system over a specified time period.

The Minister can declare a PCV by Order published in the Government Gazette for:

  • surface water and groundwater
  • surface water only, groundwater only.

PCVs are imposed to protect the resource and prevent it from being depleted or causing adverse impacts such as:

  • loss of water supply
  • reduced base flows in rivers and streams
  • changes to water quality
  • saline intrusion.

A limit on entitlements provides certainty to water users about how much they can extract while also protecting water for the environment.

If the PCV is reached and a user wants access to water or to increase their current entitlement volume, they will need to trade a volume of water from another entitlement holder in the area.

The Minister can revoke or vary a PCV by Order published in the Government Gazette.

Page last updated: 20/09/23