In the interests of the environment, the community and fairness, it's important for people to follow the rules regarding taking and using surface water.
Most water users are responsible and follow the conditions of their water licence. However, each year a small number of people break the law when they 'take and use' water from a dam, stream, river, creek or irrigation channel. They may take water without an entitlement or licence, build an illegal dam or interfere with a water meter. Sometimes these offences are deliberate, and sometimes they're because people aren't aware of the law.
It's your responsibility to know and abide by the law
Many people taking and using surface water illegally may not realise they're doing so. It's essential that you, as a surface water user, understand your rights and obligations concerning our water resources.
If you take and use water from sources such as a dam, stream, river, creek, or irrigation channel, check your water entitlement (licence) to make sure you understand what you're allowed to do. If you're unsure, contact us! We can help you find out if you need to alter your entitlement.
What happens if I'm caught doing the wrong thing?
Minor preliminary sanctions may include verbal and written warnings. More serious or persistent offenders may be pursued in court. We're here to help you understand your rights and entitlements, so please get in touch if you're unsure.
What should I do if I think someone is doing the wrong thing?
We encourage anyone who suspects a breach of the Water Act to contact us.
Are you breaking the law? Think about it!
You're probably not a masked robber running off into the night with a drum of water. However, common instances of taking water illegally revolve around misuse. Your licence allows you to use water in certain ways, make sure you abide by those conditions! This may also include restrictions of how much you can use when water is in short supply.
An example of unlawful water use may be taking water from a stock and domestic dam to irrigate a small commercial crop. In this case, you are breaking the law and need to speak to us about obtaining a commercial use licence. Stock and domestic water can only be used for household and stock watering purposes.
The Water Act 1989
The laws concerning surface water use are outlined in The Water Act 1989. We understand that reading and understanding long and complex laws isn't an easy thing to do. For this reason, GWMWater is involved in a project to make these laws more accessible. The Water Compliance Project has been developed so that customers can better understand the rules around the use of surface water.
Compliance and Enforcement Strategy
Water is a precious and limited resource. It is critical to our economy, environment and communities. This is why water needs to be managed fairly for all water users. To ensure fair and equitable access to the region's water supply for our customers, communities and the environment, we administer a risk-based approach to our compliance and enforcement activities, ensuring they are conducted in a responsive, open, accountable and consistent manner.
To find out more see our Compliance and Enforcement Strategy
Depending where you’re located in our region, you may be eligible to apply to harvest and use surface water, including from streams, rivers, creeks and catchment dams.