12 November 2020
Water for Traditional Owners – 2 GL
The Victorian Government is making two gigalitres of water available from the Mitchell River to Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation (GLaWAC).This is a significant milestone for Traditional Owners, as the first time that water has been made available to Traditional Owners in this way. The Victorian government remains committed to advancing self-determination for Traditional Owners and Aboriginal Victorians.
Southern Rural Water (SRW) is committed to fostering mutually respectful working relationships with Traditional Owner groups and Aboriginal communities, and in working together to help them achieve their objective of access to water for cultural and economic uses.
18 March 2021
GLaWAC’s application under section 51 was successful and it has been issued with a licence to take and use 2GL of Mitchell River winterfill.
20 November 2020
Winterfill allocation applications – 4 GL
Southern Rural Water will progressively release the remaining 4 GL of unallocated winterfill water allocation in two tranches, reflecting demand and ensuring equitable distribution of the resource for all interested parties.
The first 2 GL is now available to the market through an application, from which SRW will assess eligibility to participate. Depending on demand, sales will be either by auction or tender.
- 2 GL (2,000 megalitres ML) winterfill water in the Mitchell Basin is available for applications for take-and-use licence.
- Applications opened on Monday 23 November and closed 5pm 21 December 2020.
- The remaining 2 GL of winterfill water will be offered under a similar market-based approach at a later point in 2021.
- Winterfill water can only be harvested when flows are above 1,400 ML/day at the Glenaladale gauging station, between 1 July and 31 October each year.
- Depending on circumstances, this may mean that licence-holders will need to construct new off-stream dams to store this water for later use in the drier months.
Sustainable Diversion Limits assessments will apply in this allocation process to determine the availability of water at different locations within the catchment, and any water allocated must be appropriately metered.
Please note: Water is not available in all sub-catchments. Please contact SRW if you have specific questions about availability of winterfill water on your property.
Who is eligible to participate in the process?
- Landowners on the Mitchell River system or its tributaries who are eligible to be issued with a s51 licence at this time on the Mitchell Basin.
- and whose property has access to available water, according to the Sustainable Diversion Limits (SDLs). Information on water availability under the SDLs is available on the maps and tables in the information pack.
24 December 2020
Applications have now closed for this tranche of 2GL winterfill water for those currently able to hold a section 51 licence (irrigators, farmers and businesses with access to the Mitchell and tributaries within Sustainable Diversion Limits). Southern Rural Water is undertaking the assessment of eligibility and other referrals as required, and will advise the next steps soon.
14 May 2021
Mitchell River winterfill water auction results
An auction of take and use licences (under section 51) for unallocated Mitchell River winterfill was opened on Wednesday 5 May 2021. There were 24 participants, whose eligibility had been assessed in the application process. The auction was completed over three days from 12-14 May.
A total volume of 1,990 megalitres (ML) was offered in 36 lots, ranging in volume from 30ML to 100ML. All lots had multiple bidders and were sold. Winning bids ranged from $630 to $841 per ML. The average price was $733 per ML.
10 ML was made available for eligible stock and domestic applicants prior to the auction.
FAQs on the winterfill water
How was 6GL of unallocated winterfill water in the Mitchell River system identified?
The Victorian Government carried out a detailed assessment of the availability of water in the Mitchell River system for the Gippsland Region Sustainable Water Strategy (GRSWS), released in 2011. The investigation examined risks to the river systems and the downstream estuary. The assessment found that 6 gigalitres (GL) of water can be sustainably used while maintaining environment, recreational and cultural values in the Mitchell River catchment. As the name suggests, winterfill water is only available to be extracted during the peak flow winter period.
- 2GL was made available for Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation in November 2020, and their application for a licence has been successful.
- The remaining 4GL is to be offered to the market for those eligible to hold section 51 licences on the Mitchell River and its tributaries.
What is happening with the 4GL of unallocated winterfill water?
The remaining 4GL of winterfill water is being made available to the market for those who are eligible to be issued with section 51 licences on the Mitchell River system, including local farmers.
- The first tranche of 2GL was made available through water market-based processes through an application process at the end of 2020, culminating in an online auction in May 2021. The applicants were firstly assessed for their eligibility to hold a section 51 licence. All eligible applicants were then able to participate in an online auction in May 2021. All lots sold at auction (see “Auction results” on this page). This was the first time in the Mitchell that significant winterfill water allocation has been made available through a market process.
- The remaining 2GL will be made available through a similar market-based process for eligible participants later this year. Applications will be called, and intending bidders will be assessed for their eligibility to hold a section 51 licence. If there are more applications than winterfill water available, it would likely again go to an online auction, where only those whose applications have been successful could participate.
Who is eligible to participate in the process?
- Landowners on the Mitchell or its tributaries who are eligible to be issued with a s51 licence at this time on the Mitchell Basin.
- and whose property has access to available water, according to the Sustainable Diversion Limits (SDLs). Information on water availability under the SDL’s is available on the maps and tables in the information pack. Please contact SRW if you have specific questions about availability of winterfill water on your property.
Why was the first tranche offered 1.99GL (1,990 ML)?
Several of the eligible applications were for a small amount of winterfill for Domestic and Stock use. SRW determined the most equitable approach was to provide a small amount for direct sales to those applicants, prior to the auction, totalling 10ML.
When can winterfill water be harvested on licence in the Mitchell?
Winterfill water can only be harvested when flows are above 1,400 ML/day at the Glenaladale gauging station, between 1 July and 31 October each year.
How do I store the water so I can use it in summer?
Successful applicants may need to construct an off-stream dam if you are successful in gaining a winterfill licence. These may require licensing depending on size and/or location. You may also need other permits e.g. a permit from East Gippsland Shire Council.
Can I store the water in my registration dam?
You cannot put winterfill licensed water in registration dams, registration licences would need to be converted to standard licences first and would then attract ongoing fees.
I already have a dam, how do I know if I have enough room to store extra water?
You may need to engage the services of a contractor to check your existing dam capacity.
When will I know if the water will be for sale?
After the closing date for applications, SRW will go through the process of assessing the eligibility of the applicants, and will determine whether the offer is oversubscribed or not. We will then make a decision on the method of allocation of the water – by tender or auction
What are the application fees?
Unlike a normal application process, we are not seeking fees at present. Depending on demand, we may need to go to tender or auction. You will be advised what fees are required after the closing date and the completion of the assessment of applications for eligibility.
How will be water be sold?
The sale will run as a tender or auction, depending on the level of response. Whichever method is chosen, the successful applicants will receive a standard take and use licence with winterfill licensing conditions.
What is a Section 51 licence?
A take and use (section 51) licence is an entitlement to take and use water from a waterway, catchment dam, spring, soak or aquifer for a fixed term. As the Minister’s delegate, Southern Rural Water can issue these licences for 15-year terms and can set conditions on the licence.
Are there any more winter-fill entitlements expected to be made available in the Mitchell River system?
DELWP is currently undertaking a study into the Mitchell River system to determine whether further water may be made available. The study is due to be completed in late 2020.
For further information, please call SRW on 1300 139 510 or email your questions with the subject “Mitchell River winterfill” to firstname.lastname@example.org
FAQs on Water for Traditional Owners
12 November 2020
Traditional Owner water – 2 GL
The Victorian Government is making two gigalitres of water available from the Mitchell River to Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation (GLaWAC).This is a significant milestone for Traditional Owners, as the first time that water has been made available to Traditional Owners in this way. The Victorian government remains committed to advancing self-determination for Traditional Owners and Aboriginal Victorians. Southern Rural Water (SRW) is committed to fostering mutually respectful working relationships with Traditional Owner groups and Aboriginal communities, and in working together to help them achieve their objective of access to water for cultural and economic uses.
Will GLaWAC receive this water every year?
This is an annual winterfill entitlement of 2G, which GLaWAC will receive each year of their licence term. Winterfill means the water can be taken and used during 1 July to 31 October, when the river flow is at its strongest.
Can the Traditional Owners use it for irrigation?
GLaWAC, on behalf of the Gunaikurnai community, can use the water for any purpose as per the conditions in the section 51 Take and Use Licence, which can include irrigation.
Jan 2021 update:
GLaWAC’s application under section 51 is currently being assessed, which is part of the formal process in licensing their water.
Will the allocation give GLaWAC a role in looking after the water in its environment?
GLaWAC will receive water for their use under the Water Act 1989, through a licence issued by Southern Rural Water. This licence enables GLaWAC to self-determine how it will use the water, whether that is for irrigation, economic development or looking after the water in its environment, depending on their aspirations and choices.