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Domestic and stock water


Your right to domestic stock water

Your basic rights under the Water Act
What can you use domestic and stock water for?
Using bore or river water.

The Water Act 1989 says that anyone in the state can take domestic and stock water from a river or bore that they can access.

The exact wording from the Act is on the back of this fact sheet.

What is “domestic and stock” use?

You can use domestic and stock water for:

  • The house
  • A kitchen garden
  • Watering pets or stock
  • Fire prevention (only if taken from a spring or soak)

You cannot use domestic and stock water for dairies, piggeries, feedlots, poultry or any other intensive or commercial use.

River or bore water is not treated and is not always suitable for humans. You should test your water source before you drink it.

River or creek water
You can take river or creek water for domestic and stock use if:

  • Your property title includes the river
  • Your property title directly abuts the river
  • You lease Crown Land abutting the river

Bore water
You can take bore water for domestic and stock use if the bore is located on your property.

If you don’t have a bore, you can have one built. You will need to obtain a Bore Construction Licence from Southern Rural Water before work starts on the bore. Check our website for current licence fees.

More information
Contact us on 1300 139 510 for more information or to make an appointment to chat to one of our assessment staff. Morein- formation can also be found at www.srw.com.au

Extracts from the Water Act 1989
Private Rights (Section 8)

Continuation of private rights to water
1. A person has the right to take water, free of charge, for that person’s domestic and stock use from a waterway or bore to which that person has access -

(a) by a public road or public reserve; or

(b) because that person occupies the land on which the water flows or occurs; or

(c) in the case of a waterway, because that person occupies land adjacent to it and the bed and banks of the waterway have  remained the property of the Crown by virtue of section 385 of the Land Act 1958or any corre- sponding previous enactment; or

(d) subject to section 33C, in the case of a bore, because that person occupies it. hile legislation sets strict guide- lines on where bores can be positioned, we recommend that you talk to your neighbours

Domestic and stock definition (Section 3)
Domestic and stock use, in relation to water, means use for -

(a) household purposes; or

(b) watering of animals kept as pets; or

(c) watering of cattle or other stock; or

(ca)  in the case of the curtilage of a house and any outbuilding, watering an area not exceeding 1·2 hectares for fire prevention purposes with water obtained from a spring or soak or water from a dam; or

(d) irrigation of a kitchen garden- but does not include use for dairies, piggeries, feed lots, poultry or any other inten- sive or commercial use; domestic partner of a person means -

Kitchen garden means a garden -

(a) that is used solely in connection with a dwelling; and

(b) no produce from which is sold; and

(C) in the case of a garden irrigated solely with surface water that is not part of an allotment that was alienated from the Crown before
15 December 1886, that is not bigger than 0.1 hectares; and

(d) in the case of a garden irrigated with both surface water andgroundwater that is not part of an allotment that was alienated from the Crown before 15 December 1886, that is not bigger than 0.4 hectares; and

(e) in the case of a garden irrigated solely with groundwater, that is not bigger than 0.4 hectares; and

(f) in the case of a garden that is part of an allotment that was alienated from the Crown before 15 December 1886, that is not bigger than 1.2 hectares.

Download Fact Sheet


Water for my rural property - do I need a licence?

You may need a licence to obtain water from your rural property, depending on how and why you want to use the water, and where it comes from.

Licences are issued by your Southern Rural Water as your local rural water corporation.

For domestic and stock use of water

(which includes water for household purposes,watering of animals kept as pets, watering of cattle or other stock, watering around the house for fire prevention and watering a kitchen garden).

For commercial activities
(eg irrigation, mining, aquaculture, feedlots, piggeries, poultry farms, golf/sporting areas, guest accommodation, water bottling, snow making)

More information
For more information, contact your nearest rural water corporation:

Southern Rural Water
1300 139 510

Melbourne Water (surface water, Yarra and Maribyrnong waterways)
131 722

Download Factsheet


Things you need to do when buying a new property

If you are thinking about buying a property with a water licence or entitlement, read this first.

Beware, licences or water shares are not always transferred on the sale of property

A water licence or allocation may not automatically transfer with the sale of a property. We strongly suggest that this is clarified with your agent or solicitor and noted in the contract of sale prior to signing property purchase documents.

This includes water from:

  • irrigation channels
  • drains
  • rivers
  • bores
  • farm dams
  • domestic and stock licences

Make sure you, your solicitor or agent applies for an Information Statement. This will verify details about:

  • existing licences, (inc drainage diversion agreements) conditions and encumbrances
  • property location
  • licensed volume and use (from a river, dam or bore)
  • water shares and allocation (if in an irrigation district)
  • delivery shares and water use licences/registrations (if in an irrigation district)
  • tariffs applicable
  • any outstanding debt

A properly completed transfer application form must be submitted to Southern Rural Water before a licence or water share will be transferred regardless of what appears in a sale contract. Without the approval from Southern Rural Water, you will have no legal access to water.

What do I do if I don’t have the authority to take and use water?

You need to follow up with your solicitor or agent and check whether the licence or water entitlement was included in the contract of sale. If it was then you will need to complete an application form to transfer the entitlement. All current licence holders (the seller) as well as all proposed new licence holders (the buyer) must sign this form.

If the licence wasn’t included in the contract of sale, you should phone Southern Rural Water on 1300 139 510. You may be able to obtain a new licence, depending on your location. Otherwise you will need to secure a volume or entitlement through a temporary or permanent transfer.

All applications need to be submitted to Southern Rural Water for assessment. Transfer applications are not always approved.

More information
For more information, application forms or fact sheets, phone SRW on 1300 139 510 or visit our website www.srw.com.au

Download Factsheet


Things you need to do when selling or advertising a property for sale

If you are thinking about selling or advertising a property for sale with a water licence or entitlement, read this first. You may be able to keep your licence even though you are selling your land.

Be clear about what you are selling or advertising

Make sure you, your solicitor or agent applies for an Information Statement. This will verify details about:

  • existing licences, conditions and encumbrances
  • property location
  • licensed volume and use (from a river, dam or bore)
  • water allocation (if in an irrigation district)
  • works that are required to be carried out
  • tariffs applicable
  • any outstanding debt

Be clear about what you are selling. We strongly suggest that this is clarified with your agent or solicitor and noted in the con- tract of sale before advertising the property.

This includes water from:

  • irrigation channels
  • drains
  • rivers
  • bores
  • farm dams
  • domestic and stock licences

A properly completed transfer application form must be submitted to Southern Rural Water before a licence or water share can be considered for transfer. Without the approval from Southern Rural Water, the new purchaser will have no legal access to water. All current licence holders (the seller) as well as all proposed new licence holders (the buyer) must sign this form.

All applications need to be submitted to Southern Rural Water for assessment. Transfer applications are not always approved. 

More information
For more information contact us on 1300 139 510 or visit www.srw.com.au

Download Factsheet


Accessing water when your domestic stock supply dried up

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