Victorian water catchment regions

In Victoria, there are 10 catchment management regions. Each region has a catchment management authority to co-ordinate integrated management of land, water and biodiversity, except in the Port Phillip and Westernport region where Melbourne Water has the waterway and catchment management responsibilities.

Catchment management authorities and Melbourne Water have specific responsibilities for waterway management (under the Water Act 1989). Collectively, the 9 catchment management authorities and Melbourne Water are referred to as the waterway managers.

map showing 10 catchment management regions in Victoria

Role of waterway managers

The waterway managers have the lead role in developing and delivering regional programs for waterway management. The range of functions that waterway managers undertake includes:

  • developing a regional waterway strategy (more information below) and associated action plans
  • developing and implementing work programs
  • authorising works on waterways, acting as a referral body for planning applications, licences to take and use water and construct dams, for water use and other waterway health issues
  • identifying regional priorities for environmental water management and facilitating delivery of environmental water
  • providing input to water allocation processes
  • developing and co-ordinating regional floodplain management plans
  • managing regional drainage in specified areas; and
  • undertaking community participation and awareness programs.

Regional waterway strategies

The regional waterway strategies (RWSs) are a single planning document for river, estuary and wetland management in each region and drive implementation of the management approach outlined in the Victorian Waterway Management Strategy.

The current RWSs for regional Victoria were developed in 2014 by waterway managers in partnership with other regional agencies, authorities and boards involved in natural resource management, plus Traditional Owners, regional communities and other key stakeholders. Melbourne Water’s current RWS (the Healthy Waterways Strategy) was released in 2018. For coastal regions, the RWSs include the management of estuary health, highlighting the importance of estuaries as the link between catchments, coasts and the marine environment.

The current RWSs for regional Victoria outline regional goals for waterway management. High value waterways are identified and from those, a subset of priority waterways were determined for the eight-year planning period. A strategic regional work program of management activities for priority waterways is included. The regional work program provides clear direction to guide investment in waterway management by the Victorian Government.

The RWSs also identify regional priorities for environmental water management over the eight-year planning period, together with the complementary management activities required at those sites. This information is used as a key input to environmental water planning arrangements.

The regional priority setting process relies on information about values, threats and risks. It is vital that this information is collected and described consistently and, where possible, that the information is based on actual data (for example, data collected from on-ground monitoring activities). A database has been developed to house this information and support the regional priority setting process. The Aquatic Value Identification and Risk Assessment (AVIRA) database contains information about the values and threats associated with selected river, estuary and wetland assets.

The AVIRA manual provides an outline of the AVIRA Framework, the AVIRA software application and the waterway values, threats and risk assessment process.

Page last updated: 27/01/23