Water for Victoria

The Victorian Government has set a new long-term direction for managing Victoria's precious water resources.

Water for Victoria is a plan for a future with less water as Victoria responds to the impact of climate change and a growing population. The actions set out in the plan support a healthy environment, a prosperous economy with growing agricultural production, and thriving communities.

Water for Victoria was developed following extensive community consultation, including with the agriculture sector, business, Traditional Owners, recreational groups, water corporations and catchment management authorities.

The Water for Victoria discussion paper, published in March 2016, received 272 submissions. Over 700 people also contributed their ideas, knowledge and opinions on Victoria's water priorities at 27 community and stakeholder workshops across Victoria in April 2016.

We thank all those who participated and contributed to developing Water for Victoria.

We will manage water to support a healthy environment, a prosperous economy and thriving communities, now and into the future.

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.

The plan gives prominence to some issues that haven't been considered in the past, including Aboriginal values of water and recreational values of water.

Community expectations have changed, which is why we will now consider all values of water. Keeping water affordable for everyone is vital.

Our challenge, and our opportunity, is to do more with less water and to reduce our reliance on traditional water sources.

Water for Victoria provides a long-term blueprint for investment in water-related activities and the water sector.

The Victorian Government will invest $537 million over four years to deliver Water for Victoria.

Just under half of that investment - $222 million - will help improve the health of our waterways and catchments.

Other investments include irrigation modernisation and improving on-farm water use ($59.6 million), upgrades of rural water systems ($58 million), preparing for floods and emergencies ($25 million), and support for Aboriginal participation in water decisions and access to water ($9.7 million).

Victorian Waterway Management Strategy

The Victorian Waterway Management Strategy provides a detailed policy for managing Victoria's waterways over an eight-year period.

The following documents outline the Victorian Management Strategy:

Victorian Waterway Management Strategy:

Victorian Waterway Management Strategy (RTF, 3.8 MB)

The Strategy aims to maintain or improve the condition of our waterways so they can support environmental, social, cultural and economic values that are important to communities. It provides direction for regional decision-making, investment and management issues for waterways, as well as the roles and responsibilities of management agencies.

Aspirational targets are included in the strategy for long-term resource condition outcomes (to be achieved in 8+ years) and management outcomes (to be achieved in 1–8 years). Progress against these targets will be publicly reported by DELWP.

The development of this strategy has involved several stages and a strong program of stakeholder consultation.

Regional Waterway Management

In Victoria, there are ten catchment management regions and each has a catchment management authority to co-ordinate integrated management of land, water and biodiversity. Catchment management authorities also have specific responsibilities for waterway management (under the Water Act 1989), except in the Port Phillip and Westernport region where Melbourne Water have the waterway management responsibilities. Collectively, the nine catchment management authorities and Melbourne Water are referred to as the '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 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 RWSs were developed 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. 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 RWSs 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 in a consistent way 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.