Southern Rural Water (SRW) is responsible for water licencing and regulation in southern Victoria. They work with farmers, businesses, individuals, and the community to help them with water licences, understanding the conditions of their licence, and complying with the regulations.

In Victoria, the Water Act 1989 provides the legal framework for managing Victoria’s water resources. Under the act, water is allocated to individuals, businesses and the environment as water entitlements or allowed for under a statutory right. The entitlement framework considers the context of limits so that water taken under one entitlement does not reduce the reliability of supply to other entitlement holders or adversely impact environmental values. The conditions applied to water licences held by entitlement holders support this requirement.

Most people do the right thing.

Most people realise that if someone takes more than their fair share out of a water system, it has impacts on other users, the environment and the broader community. In Southern Rural Water’s experience, nearly everyone does the right thing. And in cases where people take water that isn’t approved, most don’t realise they’ve done the wrong thing and SRW work with them to right it.

Fortunately, only a small minority ignore the rules on purpose, and SRW take this behaviour seriously. In these instances, they’ll do an investigation to prove if any offences have been committed and will scale through an enforcement program. At the start of the scale, they’ll have conversations with people and issue cautions. If it’s a significant offence, then they’ll go onto prosecution and enforcement through the courts.

Managing the resource and monitor water use.

SRW monitor stream flow in rivers and creeks to see what’s happening in our waterways and use data from a series of observation bores across Victoria to understand groundwater levels in aquifers. This information helps SRW understand the amount of water available in these systems and informs how they share the resource in line with the regulations.

SRW also have water meters installed on farms and properties that measures the amount of water flowing through the pipe and this allows them to monitor water use. SRW take regular meter readings to understand how much water is being used. If someone is close to their limit, they’ll notify them so they can reduce their water use or talk to them about water trading opportunities that could help boost their allocation.

The key to fair sharing is education and empowerment.

SRW believe the best way to help people share water fairly is to educate them and empower them. That’s why they’ve got friendly and knowledgeable field officers across southern Victoria to help people understand the water regulations and how to comply with them. It’s also why they’re rolling out automation on our water meters. Automation gives customers real time data on how much water they’re using and how much remains, so they can make smarter management and business decisions.

SRW have comprehensive information about licencing, regulation, and compliance across rivers and dams, and groundwater and bores available online. Otherwise give them a call on 1300 139 510 and they’ll connect you with the right person to have a chat.