Access to Water

The Victorian Government controls most of the water resources in the State through the Victorian Water Act. Therefore, water authorities require approval from the Government to issue water licences before you are entitled to take or use water.


Access to water directly from a waterway requires a section 51 Take and Use Licence, which can be obtained through your local rural water authority. Access to a new licence is dependent on the water resources available within the catchment area and rules outlined in the related Streamflow Management Plan.

Domestic and stock water:
Access to water for domestic and stock purposes is a right for all Victorians. However, landholders may still be required to obtain a Take and Use Licence.

There are different requirements for licensing and registration of dams depending on the location of the dam, the intended use and how it will be filled. All stock and domestic dams located on a waterway require a Take and Use Licence. Domestic and stock dams that are not on a waterway do not require a Take and Use Licence.

A works licence may also be required during construction of the dam. When developing a new farm dam, contact your water authority before commencing construction.

Water for commercial use:
A water licence, or water shares in an irrigation district, is required when water is used for commercial purposes. Commercial purposes include the use of water for dairies, piggeries, feedlots and poultry.

A dam used for irrigation or commercial purposes requires a Take and Use Licence whether the dam is on a waterway or not. This licence needs to be obtained before you can commence constructing the dam.

Household dams:
All new aesthetic and household dams in rural residential areas must be registered with the local water authority prior to commencing construction.


Construction, Operating and Take and Use Licences may be required for the development and ongoing use of groundwater.

Domestic and stock water:
There is no requirement for a Take and Use Licence for the extraction of groundwater if the bore is for domestic and stock use. However, a Bore Construction licence is required, which can be issued by your local water authority. Construction of the bore must be undertaken by a licenced driller.

Commercial use:
For commercial purposes, Construction, Operating, and Take and Use Licences are required to access groundwater.

The ability to access groundwater in commercial volumes is dependent on an assessment conducted by your local water authority and bound by the rules and requirements outlined in the region’s Groundwater Management Plan. In regions where there is a high level of use of groundwater resources, the total volume of water which can be extracted from an aquifer may be capped.


Water licences within regulated irrigation areas were disassociated from land in 2007, through the process of unbundling.

An ‘entitlement’ is the maximum volume of water a user is entitled to use under specific conditions. Traditional entitlement has now been separated into three components:
     A water share: a volumetric entitlement to water of high or low reliability
     A delivery share: an entitlement to have a volume of water delivered to your property
     A water use licence: the conditions to access water, including an annual use limit

Seasonal determination announcements are made based on seasonal conditions and the inflows coming into the catchments. The seasonal determination is then expressed as a percentage.