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Southern Rural Water is responsible for ensuring that people in southern Victoria with water licences or entitlements do not breach their licence conditions.

Taking and Using Water

Most water users are responsible and abide by the conditions of their water licence.

However, each year a small number of users take water illegally. Some do this deliberately, some inadvertently.

This includes water sourced from a bore, dam, creek, stream, river or irrigation channel.

You can find out more about your water use rights and obligations by:

    • Checking the conditions written on your licence
    • Visiting the Victorian Water Register
    • Contacting Southern Rural Water
Water compliance project

The Federal government has started the Water Compliance Project to help rural water users understand their rights and obligations for taking and using water.

The project also provides extra support for monitoring across our region.

This project is part of the National Framework for Compliance and Enforcement of water resource management systems.

The Framework promotes common water laws and compliance mechanisms across Australia and is funded by the Australian Government through the Water for the Future initiative.

Water Compliance Project Q&A

What is the Water Compliance Project?

Victoria is implementing a national project to implement a more consistent approach to compliance and enforcement of the take and use of water across all States and Territories through the Water Compliance Project.

The project aims to achieve a more robust, risk based compliance and enforcement framework for water resource management to safeguard the State’s water resources. The information gathered through this project will help prevent and respond to illegal activities.

The emphasis of the project is on encouraging voluntary compliance by providing more, readily accessible information and raising awareness to ensure that water users understand their rights and obligations.

This project applies only to rural water users.

Who does this project apply to?

This project applies to all water users who take and use rural water supplies in the areas managed by:

  • Grampians Wimmera Mallee Water*
  • Goulburn Murray Water
  • Southern Rural Water
  • Lower Murray Water*
  • Melbourne Water
  • Coliban Water*

*applies to rural water customers only.

Who is involved in this project?

The Department of Environment Land Water and Planning (DELWP) is working collaboratively with the rural water corporations to implement this project.

Why has the Water Compliance Project been introduced? Is water theft really a problem?

Although it is not possible to accurately quantify unauthorized taking of water, we know that each year a small but consistent number of offences occur. This includes taking more water than a user is entitled to; taking water outside of roster or restriction periods, constructing unauthorized works; or deliberately tampering with a meter.

This project has been introduced to:

  • protect the rights of water entitlement holders by having additional compliance officers on the ground;
  • protect water dependent natural ecosystems by focusing compliance efforts on river systems at the highest risk; and
  • contribute to the sustainability of water use and thereby protect the interests of communities.

Why is compliance and enforcement necessary?

A key part of managing the state’s water resources is ensuring compliance with the water law to enable the secure and sustainable sharing of water between users.

Is it a revenue generating exercise?

No. It’s about ensuring water is used fairly so all water users, including the environment, is protected. It is also about ways to improve information and knowledge amongst water users to make compliance easier.

How do I find out what my rights and obligations are for taking and using water?

Water users (and prospective users) can find out more about their rights and obligations on water use from the Victorian Water Register website (, your local water corporation website, or by contacting your local water corporation.

Who is funding this project?

This is a state-based Federally-funded project that is being implemented by the Victorian government in collaboration with the water corporations. The funding strengthens water corporations’ existing compliance monitoring and enforcement capabilities.

What should I do if I think someone else is doing the wrong thing?

We encourage anyone who suspects a breach of the Water Act 1989 to contact us.

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WaterMatch - online trading

Watermatch is a free online service, designed to help people trade water.

Once you have registered, you can advertise to buy or sell water.

Depending on the water that you wish to trade, choose from the Groundwater, Surface Water (rivers and creeks) and Irrigation District forum.

Select a new topic to create your ad. Your ad can be to buy or sell water, and must describe the source of your water, quantity of water you want to buy or sell, how long you want to trade for and your contact details. If you are happy to put a buying or selling price, this can be included here too.

If you want to respond to an ad, you can use the email link or contact the advertiser direct.

It is an online trading forum, and can also be used by people who are not on the internet, with help from our staff.

Watermatch allows you to register your interest in either buying or selling water in southern Victoria.

  • the Macalister, Werribee and Bacchus Marsh Irrigation District
  • Groundwater systems in southern Victoria
  • Rivers and creek systems in southern Victoria (other than those managed by Melbourne Water around the Port Phillip region).

Who can use it?
Anyone can use watermatch. You may be an existing licence holder who wants to sell water, or buy more water.

You may not currently have a licence, but you want to buy water in the region.

How does it work?

  • click here to enter Watermatch
  • register as a user (a very simple process)
  • go to the system or district you are interested in and check current entries
  • add in any entry for any water you want to sell or buy

What information should I include in my ad?

  • If you are wanting to buy or sell
  • your name
  • phone number
  • name of river, creek, groundwater management area or irrigation district
  • how much water is to be traded
  • If the trade is temporary or permanent
  • term of the trade (Maximum term is 5 years)

Things you need to know
We are always looking for ways to improve our customer service. If you would like to provide feedack or suggested improvements please click here.

it's important to note that Southern Rural Water is not acting, and will not act, as a water broker.

We cannot advise you on price of water or match you individually with a buyer/seller.

Buyers and sellers still need to go through our normal application process.

Trading applications must be submitted to Southern Rural Water and approval granted before water is taken. A water transfer application form can be downloaded from our application page.

If you want to trade upstream, please speak with one of our Assessment Officers prior to submitting an application.

To check if a buyer or seller can trade with you, call us on 1300 139 510 and ask to speak to an Assessment Officer.

Not a water broker

It's important to note that Southern Rural Water is not acting, and will not act, as a water broker.

We cannot advise you on price of water or match you individually with a buyer/seller.

Buyers and sellers still need to go through our normal application process.

Click here to download our Fact Sheet