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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 Water Compliance Project helps 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.