Your right to domestic stock 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
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 Prices and forms page for current licence fees.
Contact us on 1300 139 510 for more information or to make an appointment to chat to one of our assessment staff.
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 1958 or any corresponding previous enactment; or
(d) subject to section 33C, in the case of a bore, because that person occupies it. The 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 intensive 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 and groundwater 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.
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)
For more information, contact your nearest rural water corporation:
Southern Rural Water
1300 139 510
Melbourne Water (surface water, Yarra and Maribyrnong waterways)