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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.

Good compliance comes from water users understanding their rights and obligations for taking and using water, and understanding how we monitor usage across our regions. This includes water sourced from a bore, dam, creek, stream, river or irrigation channel.

Making sure that all users are aware of what they need to do helps to:

  • protect the rights of all water entitlement holders
  • protect water-dependent natural ecosystems and river systems at risk, and
  • ensure that water use remains fair and sustainable, which protects the interests of communities.

In May 2020, the Victorian Government undertook a comprehensive independent review to ensure Victorian irrigators and water users have a robust compliance and enforcement system. The review found that Victoria has a strong track record and that most irrigators are already doing the right thing.

While compliance levels are relatively high, the review found that there were several areas to strengthen, to provide consistency and quick resolutions.

The target is to reduce water theft rates to less than 1 per cent of rural water volume. Under new regulations, water corporations, such as Southern Rural Water, can issue on-the-spot fines.

To help customers keep track of their water use, and not risk inadvertently going over their entitlement, we are continuing to roll out automated meter readers, and are rolling out access to online tools such as to provide visibility of your usage, currently available for irrigation district customers.

For more information about our Compliance and Enforcement Framework, click on the link below, or call 1300 139 510 to speak with our Customer Service team.

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

Taking and Using Water - compliance and enforcement

Compliance framework

We have a compliance framework that explains how we regulate and manage compliance, how customers can keep informed about their rights and obligations under their licence, and what steps we can take in the most serious cases or misuse or overuse.

For more detail: see the SRW Compliance Framework May 2020


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 ( and by contacting us.

Is water theft a problem in Southern Victoria?

Southern Victoria does not have a significant problem with water theft. Misuse can happen deliberately or inadvertently.

Each year a small number of offences occur, either through a licensed user taking more water than they are entitled to, or taking water outside of roster or restriction periods, constructing unauthorized works or deliberately tampering with a meter.

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.

Metering Action Plan Summary 2020

Summary of key actions and objectives.

In line with the State Non-Urban Water Metering Policy 2020, Southern Rural Water (SRW) has developed a Metering Action Plan (The plan) that sets out our actions in replacing the current fleet of rural water meters, with meters that are ‘pattern approved’. Pattern approval is a certification from the National Measurement Institute that states the accuracy level of the meter in various sizes.

The objective of the plan is to ensure that all sites that fit the criteria for pattern approved meter installations are scheduled and funded within the timeframes allowed for in the Murray Darling Basin (MDB) compact which was signed by Victoria in 2018. This includes installation of remote telemetry where applicable.

The plan details how the replacement of some 1640 meters will be achieved within the 2018-2023 pricing plan, and the 2023-2028 pricing plan. No water price or cost implications are planned for or expected in the current pricing plan and all meters not replaced before June 30 2023 will be subject to funding in the next 5 year pricing plan period.

SRW has a total fleet of around 5,000 surface water and groundwater meters across the southern third of Victoria. Most are mechanical paddle wheel or propellor meters and their age is up to 20 years old. Most pattern approved meters are electronic and contain no internal moving parts. They are highly accurate and have the ability for customers to wire direct to the meter for information access if desired.

After careful analysis of the resource area using a risk-based approach, SRW has established that around 40% of the groundwater and surface water meter fleet will require upgrading to pattern approved meters.

To replace 1640 meters SRW will embark on a program where the highest resource risk is evident so that maximum value can be achieved from the earliest point in time. First areas for replacement are:

  • Mitchell River
  • Latrobe River
  • Sale & Rosedale Groundwater
  • Yarram, Giffard & Denison Groundwater and
  • Bungaree groundwater.

Remote meter reading telemetry is also part of the obligation of the MDB compact, and SRW are already well into a program of installing remote meter reading telemetry to much of our meter fleet. This program is well advanced, already funded in the current water pricing path and will be completed in the 2022-23 financial year.

Southern Rural Water is currently modernising the three irrigation districts that we manage in Werribee, Bacchus Marsh and Macalister. New infrastructure is being installed to deliver water in the districts along with (where possible) new meters. Pattern Approved meters are not yet available for open channel low gravity conditions, therefore appropriate state of the art meters are being installed. Pipeline and closed conduit channel situations are receiving pattern approved meters in all districts.

Southern Rural Water has a number of remnant Dethridge meter outlets in open channels and most of these have been grandfathered until a low-cost accurate meter can be sourced.

An updated Metering Action Plan will be submitted to DELWP as the modernisation of the three districts nears completion.

View full Metering Action Plan here

Southern Rural Water acknowledges and recognises Aboriginal people as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the land and waters on which we work and live, and we respect their deep and ongoing connection to Country. For more about the First Nations peoples on whose Country we work, click here.