Irrigation Water – your responsibilities


Through smart and efficient farming practices, Victorian farmers produce a variety of foods crops widely regarded as some of the best in the world.

All Victorian land owners who access surface water or groundwater for either domestic and stock use or for irrigation have a number of legal obligations regarding the licensed take and use of that water.

There are also legal obligations relating to the quantity and quality of water leaving the farm and discharging into waters.

Water use in Victoria

The main rules

  • The management of water on and off farm is a shared responsibility between State Government, rural water supply authorities, Catchment Management Authorities (CMAs), Local Government and land owners.

  • Under the Water Act 1989 the Minister for Water, on behalf of the Crown, allocates water to Authorities by means of Bulk entitlements and, when required, to individuals under a licence and in declared systems by way of a water share.

    The controlling authority is the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) with local responsibility delegated to the relevant Water Corporations.

  • Licensing of the take and use of water anywhere in a catchment and the construction of dams on waterways has been delegated to the relevant Water Corporations.

  • The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) administers the Environment Protection Act 1970.

    This Act puts in place a wide range of environmental safeguards relevant to water management and the regulation of discharges into waters.

  • Local Government has a role in ensuring that local drainage networks are adequate and must also ensure, through planning and development, that the municipality has adequate flood protection.

  • Land owners have a responsibility to manage water on their farm in a way that does not adversely affect commercial agricultural production on neighbouring farms, and to ensure that the quality of any water leaving the farm does not have an adverse impact on a waterway.

For information on water management on farms in Victoria, visit

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