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Managing grazing on riparian land

Landholders are encouraged to actively manage riparian land. A complete exclusion of grazing on riparian land may discourage landholders from fencing especially because of their concerns about weeds.

Controlled grazing may become a viable option along with fencing. It restricts when and how grazing takes place and limits the number of animals (stocking rates). It can be a useful management tool to:

  • control palatable weeds, particularly pasture grasses
  • improve the condition of certain vegetation types such as native grasses
  • promote natural regeneration of indigenous woody species.

DEECA has developed a range of helpful resources:

  • a decision support tool and guidelines that help determine if grazing is acceptable
  • a compact field companion for easier access to the key elements of the full guidelines.

These guidelines can help make decisions about grazing in riparian management agreements and their related licence conditions on Crown frontages.

The decision support tool and guidelines can assist with determining if controlled grazing will be allowed on riparian land that is subject to riparian management agreements by considering if it:

  • is environmentally beneficial
  • is acceptable as a management tool
  • doesn't compromise the environmental, social, cultural or economic values of the riparian land or downstream.

Decision support tool, guidelines and field companion

Take and use licences for off-stream stock watering

Landholders can partner with their catchment management authority (CMA) to do work on the Crown water frontage abutting their land. Works may include fencing, revegetation and creating off-stream stock watering.

These landholders can apply for a new take and use licence to provide water for their stock instead of the animals using the river. In these cases, landholders will be given a longer licence period, CMAs will pay the cost of the initial application fee back to landholders and the water corporation will waive their annual fee for 3 years.

This aims to encourage a more active role in riparian land management.

Cutting the costs of take and use licences

Flood-prone fencing guidelines

Major floods in Victoria in 2010, 2011 and 2012 resulted in significant damage and loss of fences close to rivers and creeks.

This raised issues about the type, design, construction and location of fences on active floodplains and about the usefulness of funding riparian works, such as fencing on floodplains that can be damaged during floods.

Consequently, guidelines were developed by DEECA in collaboration with CMAs and other stakeholders to help choose the best techniques for siting, designing and constructing fences in flood-prone areas. This ensures that the maximum benefit is gained from investing in fencing to protect riparian land.

These guidelines help choose fencing for a riparian area by:

  • providing a key to identify the type of floodplain
  • explaining the range of fencing options for that type of floodplain
  • giving the information needed to decide on the site's most suitable fencing option (or options).

The guidelines detail three strategies for minimising floodwater and debris damage to fencing:

  • avoiding flood impact
  • making the fencing flood-resistant
  • making the fencing flood-resilient.

Choosing the right strategy for a site requires striking a balance between capital, recurrent and repair costs and what is appropriate for different land uses.

Guidelines for riparian fencing in flood prone areas

Juvenile stock in waterways

The presence of livestock around waterways, particularly juvenile stock, creates a risk to water quality.

Stock manure contains disease-causing pathogens that pose a risk to human and stock health. Juvenile stock, such as calves, contain many times more of these infectious pathogens than adult stock. This is because juvenile stock takes a while to develop resistance to the pathogens.

Stock defecates more when standing in waterways to drink or when crossing waterways. They also stir up sediments and any pathogens that may be in the water. If stock manure contaminates drinking water sources and is not treated to the required level, pathogens can cause serious outbreaks of human disease.

As a result, it's important to actively manage stock access to waterways upstream of drinking water supplies. Managing juvenile stock is the most cost-effective first action for protecting drinking water catchments.

Juvenile stock in waterways factsheet and supplementary information

Page last updated: 10/10/23