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.
The Water Compliance Project
The Project is Victoria’s implementation of the National Framework for Compliance and Enforcement of water resource management systems. The Framework promotes common water laws and compliance mechanisms across Australia and is funded by the Australian Government through the Water for the Future initiative.
Key elements of the project include providing water users with more accessible and easily understood information about water 'take and use' obligations, as well as providing support for extra monitoring activities
GWMWater is one of six water corporations involved in the project.
Find out more about the Water Compliance Project.
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.