Take and use water and operate works licensing

The granting of a works licence does not grant any rights to take and use water. Under most circumstances a Licence to Take and Use Water and Operate Works is required.

You should contact the Licensing Unit prior to taking any water. If you take and/or use water without a licence you are committing an offence/s pursuant to the Water Act 1989 (Vic).

Please read this information in detail before starting your application.

Before you start

The Licence to Take and Use Water and Operate Work applications below combine the requirements for:

  • A Licence to Take and Use Water section 51 Water Act 1989 (Vic)
  • A Licence to Operate Works section 67 Water Act 1989 (Vic)
  • An amendment to an existing Licence to Take and Use Water and Licence to Operate Works sections 59A Water Act 1989 (Vic)
  • A Licence to Transfer a Take and Use Licence section 62 Water Act 1989 (Vic)

Under very limited circumstances you may have what is called a private right to access water for domestic or stock purposes. You should contact the Licensing Unit to determine if this applies to you as you may be required to make application for a private right determination.  Form 95 - Private right to take and use water determination

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Application process

  • Complete the application form, providing the supporting documentation.
  • Applications are subject to approval by GMW and specific rules apply to particular catchments and waterways. 
  • All applicants must sign the application.
  • After you lodge your application GMW will notify you in writing that it has been received and will advise if you are required to advertise and/or notify your neighbours.
  • The timeframe to complete an assessment may vary depending on the nature of your application. There may be delays if you are required to engage a consultant to conduct a technical assessment in support of your application. If delays are expected you will be notified by GMW.
  • GMW cannot make a decision in relation to an application until all relevant information is received (this includes notification to neighbours and advertising if they are required). 
  • When the decision has been made you will notified in writing of the outcome, either that the application has been approved or refused. Application fees are not refundable if an application is refused.
  • Licences issued by GMW can be issued up to 15 years, but in some areas, licences are issued for 5 years. If during the term of a licence an application to amend the licence is approved, the amended licence will only be issued for the remainder of the original term.
  • GMW will notify licensees six months prior to the expiry date to request the submission of an application to renew the licence. If you have lodged an application to renew the licence prior to the expiry date you may continue to Take and Use Water and Operate Works in accordance with the conditions of the expired licence, until further notice. Approval of an application to renew a licence is not automatic and is subject to an assessment by GMW. Under some circumstances an application to renew may not be approved. Affected applicants will be notified.

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Applications

You can use this application form for one of the application types below:

New licence to apply to take and use water and operate works

Form 71 + 91 - Apply for a new licence

Amend an existing licence

Form 73 + 79 - Amend an existing licence

Renew an existing licence

Licences to Take and Use Water and Operate Works are issued for a fixed term. Section 58 and 72 of the Water Act 1989 (Vic) state that the holder of a licence may, before the expiry of the licence, make application to renew the licence.

If you wish to retain the right to take and use water and operate works for the purpose specified in your licence, you must make application to renew the licence prior to the expiry date.

Form 73 + 79 - Renew an existing licence

Surrender an existing licence

If you no longer have a requirement to Take and Use Water and Operate Works for any other purpose other than domestic and stock supply, you can surrender the licence by completing and submitting this form.

There is no fee for surrender of a licence. Any outstanding charges must be paid before a licence can be surrendered and licensees continue to be liable for fees and charges until the application to surrender the licence is received and approved by GMW.

Form 73 + 79 - Surrender an existing licence

Amalgamate existing licences

Form 77 - Amalgamate existing licences

Subdivide an existing licence

Form 78 - Subdivide an existing licence

Permanent or temporary trade of existing licence

Trading take and use water entitlements provides existing licensed water users with the opportunity to maximise the value of their licence by selling their unused entitlement, and provides others with the ability to purchase water entitlements in areas where new entitlement is not available.

The trade of a licence to take and use water and operate works includes transfer of the licence entitlement for the requested volume from the seller's to the buyer's existing or new licence. If the buyer does not currently hold a licence to Take and Use and Operate Works, an application for a new licence will be required prior to the approval of the trade.

GMW cannot provide you with information on the current market value of water; however if you decide to proceed with a trade, information about market activity and pricing can be obtained from your local water broker.

The buyer can take and use water upon written confirmation from GMW that the trade has been approved subject to the conditions of the licence. Use may be restricted from time to time in accordance with the conditions of the licence.

Impacts and the environment

When assessing an application for the trade of a licence, GMW must consider any impacts on existing authorised users of the water and the environment. When the application is lodged it will be assessed initially to determine whether the trade of water poses a risk of having any adverse impacts on existing users and the environment by determining a sustainable diversion limit and a minimum passing flow requirement.

If this assessment indicates that there is a significant risk of impacting other users or the environment additional information will be required from the applicant. GMW may require that technical investigations, hydrogeological assessments and/or pumping tests are undertaken to demonstrate that the proposal will not adversely impact upon existing authorised water users and the environment. Completion of this work, if applicable, will be required before the trade of the entitlement is considered. Please note that the costs of any technical work are paid by the applicant. If you are required to undertake such work you will be notified by GMW.

Rules and restrictions for your trading zone

Rules have been established which allow the trade of water entitlements. The trading zone applicable to your licence is listed on your licence document and can also be obtained by contacting the Licensing Unit (fees apply).

You should obtain information about trading rules and restrictions applicable to your licence before proceeding to locate a buyer or seller for your licence volume. These rules and policies are issued and updated from time to time by the Victorian Minister.

Find out more about Water Trading zone rules

Rules relating to trading are also contained in the Policies for Managing Take and Use Licences - consolidated 21 Sept 2010 issued by the Victorian Minister for Water. This document can be downloaded from the Victorian Water Register website. If you cannot access the internet please contact the Licensing Unit to request a copy. 

Additional rules may apply to an individual catchment as a result of local management rules established under a Water Supply Protection Area. Water Supply Protection Areas are declared to protect the water resources of surface water catchments, groundwater aquifers or both and aim to provide a balanced and sustainable sharing of stream flows between all water users in unregulated systems.

Permanent transfer of a licence

The following general rules apply to permanently transfer of a licence to take and use water:

Transfer of a licence is not permitted to or from farm dams unless there is a standard Licence to Take and Use Water has been issued. A registration licence can be converted to a standard Licence upon request to GMW. Please contact the Licensing Unit for further information.
If a licence has been issued with a winter-fill condition, it cannot be transferred to a licence which has been issued as an all-year licence.

All transfers into unregulated sub-catchments are subjected to an assessment against the sustainable diversion limit to determine whether they can be permitted. If your sub-catchment is fully committed you will only be allowed to transfer from another licence within your sub catchment.
Water cannot be used by the buyer until the transfer has been approved and GMW has notified all parties in writing.

If you are still unsure about the rules you should contact the Licensing Unit to discuss your proposal.

Permanent transfer of a licence in Management Zone 2 (Upper Ovens Water Management Plan only)

Rules have been established to allow the transfer of entitlement. These rules for transfer are part of the Upper Ovens Water Management Plan which was approved by the Victorian Minister for Water in January 2012.

The following general rules apply to permanent transfer of a licence to take and use surface water and groundwater:

  • The transfer of entitlement is limited to the term of the current financial year. The transferred volume reverts back to the sellers Licence on 1 July in the following year.
  • Any volume transferred to a licence for one year cannot be transferred on to another licence.
  • Permanent transfers are permitted downstream on the same stream, subject to a reduction in the transferred volume of 20%.
  • Permanent transfers are permitted upstream or out of catchment, subject to winter take conditions.
  • Transfer of a licence is not permitted to or from farm dams unless there is a standard Licence to Take and Use Water and Operate Works has been issued. A registration licence can be converted to a standard Licence upon request to GMW. Please contact the Licensing Unit for further information.
  • If a licence has been issued with winter-fill condition, it cannot be transferred to a licence which has been issued as an all-year licence.
  • All transfers into unregulated sub-catchments are subjected to an assessment against the sustainable diversion limit to determine whether they can be permitted. If your sub catchment is fully committed you will only be allowed to transfer from another licence within your sub catchment.
  • Water cannot be used by the buyer until the transfer has been approved and GMW has notified all parties in writing.
  • If the sellers licence is in operational use, the pumping system must be metered according to GMW’s requirements before a transfer can be approved.
  • The buyer must have a Licence to Take and Use Groundwater an Operate Works before an application for a permanent transfer can be approved.

For specific details about trading in the Upper Ovens Water Supply Protection Area refer to the Water Management Plan.

You are urged to contact GMW prior to making an application to ensure you have a full understanding of the conditions which apply to the permanent transfer of licence entitlement in your area. For information and maps, please refer to the groundwater information on the GMW website.

Form 74 + 75 - Permanent or temporary transfer of an existing licence

Temporary trade of an existing licence

The temporary transfer of a licence involves the transfer licence entitlement from the sellers licence to the buyers licence. Entitlement that has been temporarily transferred, takes into account any restrictions that may be in place on the buyers licence.

Where restrictions have been set (eg. where less than 100% of licence volume is made available in a given season) the transferred volume which will be available for the purchaser to use upon approval of the transfer will be adjusted to reflect the available percentage of licence volume at the time of the approval of the transfer. For example if a seller temporarily transfers a 100ML Licence (unused) in an area where the allocation volume is limited to 70%, the purchaser will be the recipient of a 100ML Licence entitlement with only 70ML available to use for the term of the transfer.

Information relating to trading rules applicable to your licence is available to download from the GMW website. If you cannot access the internet please contact the Licensing Unit to request a copy of the relevant fact sheets by mail or fax.

Tier 2 (multi-year) temporary trades

Applicant/s must provide copy of agreement between the seller and buyer in relation to the multiple year transfer. Multiple year temporary transfers can be approved for up to a maximum of 5 years, subject to a Tier 2 technical assessment which may determine further information is required from the applicant to approve an application.

Buyers will still be required to pay the annual service fee at the commencement of each season to maintain the multiple year temporary transfer. You will need to provide the buyers licence number and the existing volume of the licence in ML.

Note: If the buyer does not hold a current Take & Use Licence, Goulburn-Murray Water will issue one on their behalf. Please be aware that this licence is valid for the term of the trade. If you would like to keep the Take & Use Licence current, you will need to submit another trade before the expiration date of the trade applied for.

The current ownership of this land must also be verified. To ensure this information is accurate GMW requires you to list the most current land parcel description. If the bore/s or irrigated land are located on land that is not in the applicant’s ownership, written consent from the landowner also is required. Please complete Annexure 1 – Consent of Landowner.

Temporary trade of groundwater in Management Zone 2 (Upper Ovens Water Management Plan only)

Plans and rules have been established where groundwater has been, or has the potential to be, intensively developed. If you intend to apply for a temporary licence transfer you are urged to contact GMW prior to making an  application to ensure you have a full understanding of the conditions which apply to the temporary transfer of licence entitlement in your area. For information and maps, please refer to the groundwater trading information on the GMW website.

The following general rules apply to temporary trade to Management Zone 2:

  • Transfer of entitlement is limited to the term of the current financial year. The transferred volume reverts back to the sellers Licence on 1 July in the following year.
  • Transfers can occur from groundwater and surface water licence holders located within the Upper Ovens Water Supply Protection Area. Please refer to the information on the GMW website.
  • Transferred entitlement may be restricted or prohibited from being used if there are adverse impacts on other users or the environment.
  • If the sellers licence is in operational use, the pumping system must be metered according to GMW’s requirements before a transfer can be approved.
  • The buyer must have a Licence to Take and Use and Operate Works before an application for a temporary transfer can be approved.
  • Water cannot be used by the buyer until the transfer has been approved. GMW will notify all parties of the outcome of an application in writing.
Temporary trade of surface water

Rules have been established to allow the temporary trade of surface water entitlement. These rules and policies are issued and updated from time to time by the Victorian Minister for Water.

The following general rules apply to temporary transfer of a licence to take and use surface water:

  • The transfer of entitlement is limited to the term of the current financial year. The transferred volume reverts back to the sellers Licence on 1 July in the following year unless a multi year trade in is progress. Any volume transferred to a licence for one year cannot be transferred on to another licence.
  • Temporary transfers are permitted downstream on the same stream, may be subject to a reduction in the transferred volume of 20%. 
  • Transfer of a licence is not permitted to or from farm dams unless there is a standard Licence to Take and Use Water has been issued. A registration licence can be converted to a standard Licence upon request to GMW. Please contact the Licensing Unit for further information.
  • If a licence has been issued with a winter-fill condition, it cannot be transferred to a licence which has been issued as an all-year licence.
  • All transfers into unregulated sub-catchments are subjected to an assessment against the sustainable diversion limit to determine whether they can be permitted. If your sub catchment is fully committed you will only be allowed to transfer from another licence within your sub catchment. 
  • Water cannot be used by the buyer until the transfer has been approved and GMW has notified all parties in writing.

Form 74 + 75 - Permanent or temporary transfer of an existing licence

Transfer existing licence on sale of land

Why do I need to transfer my licence when I sell my land?

A Licence to Take and Use and Operate Works does not automatically transfer when the ownership of land changes or a notice of acquisition/disposition is lodged with GMW. Under the provisions of the Water Act 1989 (Vic), if the current licence holder wishes to transfer the licence to the purchaser of their land, they must apply to transfer the licence to the purchaser and both parties must sign the application form.

What if I am not transferring all the land currently listed on the licence?

If only part of the land currently included on the Licence to Take and Use and Operate Works has been sold, the application form must include details of the changes to the land description (including land to be removed or updated) on the licence.

If the licence includes more than one work and the seller wishes to retain part of the licensed volume to extract from the work on the land not being sold, they must make application for a sub-division and assignment of the licensed volume. In this case the transfer application form will not be required. Please contact the Licensing Unit for a sub-division application form.

How do I know if I need to renew my Licence?

Licences to Take and Use Water and Operate Works are issued for a fixed term. If the licence is due to expire within 18 months, you have the option to renew the licence at the time of applying for a transfer. If you are unsure please contact the Licensing Unit.

Am I required to renew the licence at time of transfer?

No, you are not obligated to renew the licence at time of transfer. If you do not renew your licence, you will be issued with a new licence for the remaining term. GMW will notify you prior to the expiry date giving you the option of renewing the licence; this would require an application form and fee.

What charges must be paid upon transfer and renewal of a licence?

The application fee to transfer or renew the licence or the fee to transfer the licence must accompanying the application. You must also ensure that any outstanding charges on your account have been paid when the application is lodged. An application will not be approved if charges are outstanding. GMW will arrange for charges for the current financial year to be transferred to the new licensee once the application to transfer is approved. Please contact the Change of ownership unit for details of any outstanding charges prior to making application.

What documents do I need to provide to verify the changes to land ownership?

To verify the current ownership of land an application to transfer a licence must be accompanied by either a Notice of Acquisition or Disposition, or a registered search statement for all land titles to be included in the new licence.

How can I get a copy of the Notice of Acquisition/Disposition or my land titles?

Your solicitor can provide you with a copy of the notice of Acquisition/Disposition.

You can obtain a registered title search (see attached example of the correct search) by:

  • Accessing the Land Titles office via the internet at on the Land Victoria website or phone (03) 8636 2456
  • Requesting that GMW complete the searches on your behalf.
  • Contacting your solicitor or legal advisor.

How long is a Licence valid for?

A transferred licence to Take & Use and Operate Works will be issued to the new owner for the remainder of the existing licence term. Details about the expiry date can be requested by the current licensee by contacting the Licensing Unit. The application to transfer the ownership of a licence includes provision for renewal of the licence for a further term. 

Form 93 - Transfer ownership of an existing licence on sale of land

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Supporting documentation  

ASIC Company Extract

If an applicant is a company:

  • A current (less than 12 months old) copy of an ASIC Company Search listing all directors and/or office bearers must be provided.
  • Two directors or one director and one secretary must sign the form, unless the company has a sole director and secretary.

You can obtain a company search statement by:

  • Accessing the ASIC website or by phoning (03) 5177 3988 
  • Requesting that GMW complete the searches on your behalf (fees apply)
  • Contacting your solicitor or legal advisor to conduct the search on your behalf (fees may apply).

Registered Title

If you are currently a GMW customer and have an existing Take and Use and Operate Works Licence that you are transferring, current copies of titles will not be required for a Permanent Trade.

If you do not have an existing licence a current (less than 3 months old) copies of titles must be provided.

You can obtain a copy of your registered title by:

  • Accessing the Land Titles office via the internet or phone 1300 730 000
  • Requesting that GMW complete the search/s on your behalf (fees apply)
  • Contacting your solicitor or legal advisor to conduct the search/s on your behalf (fees may apply).

Consent from Land Owner / Crown Consent

If the diversion point is on land that in NOT is the applicant’s ownership, written consent from the land owner will be required and/or proof of occupancy.

Proof of occupancy - Where occupation of land is under terms of a lease or partnership agreement or subject to approval from the relevant Crown Land Manager, a copy of the agreement must accompany this application.

Irrigation Development Guideline assessment report

An Irrigation Development Guideline assessment report may be required as part of the licence application for irrigation developments that meet one of the following criteria:

  • A proposal to irrigate land that has never been previously subject to irrigation;
  • An application to increase the annual use limit on the land in the current licence, or
  • An application to increase the area allowed to be irrigated in the current licence.

You will be contacted if the Irrigation Development Guidelines apply.

Aboriginal Cultural Heritage

If new works will be installed (pumps/pipes etc.) as part of this application, you must ensure that you comply with any obligations under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006.

In Victoria, Aboriginal cultural heritage is protected and managed under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 (“the Act”) and the Aboriginal Heritage Regulations 2007 (“the Regulations”). GMW has an obligation to ensure applicants are
made aware of their obligations under this legislation.

Under the provisions of the Act a waterway, or land within 200m of a waterway, may be considered an area of cultural heritage sensitivity.

To determine if the site of your proposed works may be in an area of cultural heritage sensitivity you can access the Cultural Heritage Sensitivity map (opens in a new window)

The installation of new pumps and/or attached pipelines normally occurs on or near a waterway so it is likely that these works may be located in an area of cultural heritage sensitivity.

If works are proposed to be constructed or altered as part of a licence application, applicants need to be aware of their obligations under the Act and its Regulations.

Applicants should also be aware that if your proposal to install (or alter) works meets the criteria for a high impact activity under Regulation 43 of the Act you may be subject to further obligations.

High impact activities include, among other things,

  • the installation of any works affecting an area exceeding 25 square metres.
  • the works are a linear project that is the construction of a pipeline (of any diameter) with a length exceeding 500 metres; or
  • the works are a linear project with a length exceeding 100 metres (with a pipe diameter not exceeding 150 millimetres).

If the construction or alteration of works is considered a high impact activity and occurs in all or part of an area of cultural heritage sensitivity you may be required to prepare a Cultural Heritage Management Plan (CHMP).

You can check whether a Cultural Heritage Management Plan is required by accessing the “Aboriginal Heritage Planning Tool” developed by Aboriginal Affairs Victoria. The interactive online tool will guide you through a series of questions to help you determine your obligations. The website also has information to assist you with contacting the relevant Registered Aboriginal Party or Cultural Heritage Advisor if you require further assistance.

You can access the Aboriginal Heritage Planning Tool on the Victorian government website (opens in a new window) and print a receipt of your results for inclusion in your application. If you do not have access to the internet, please contact the Licensing Unit for assistance.

If you do not have access to the internet please contact the Licensing Unit for further assistance.

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Fees and charges

Application fees

Application fees cover the full cost of undertaking a licence assessment in accordance with GMW’s obligations under the Water Act 1989 (Vic). If your application is approved, the new licence will be recorded in the Victorian Water Register and you will receive a copy of the licence document. Application fees are not refundable if an application is refused.

Trade fees

The fee structure reflects the cost of the work required by GMW to assess and determine applications for temporary licence transfers in accordance with its legal obligations.

  • Tier 1: An application to transfer a volume to a downstream user on the same stream is generally considered to have a lower risk of impacting other users or the environment and only requires a Tier 1 assessment.
    Tier 2: Applications for transfers in which entitlement is to be transferred upstream or off the source stream require a Tier 2 assessment which includes a site inspection and technical assessment.

Ongoing costs

A Licence to Take and Use Water and Operate Works is subject to annual fixed charges, issued by GMW in July each year. For specific details about which charges will apply to your licence, please contact the Licensing Unit on 1800 013 357.

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FAQs

Do I have to advertise my application in the newspaper or notify my neighbours?

After you lodge your application, GMW will notify you in writing if you are required to advertise and/or notify your neighbours. GMW will send out the proforma for advertising and notification to neighbours, this will include a reference number which relates to your application. If the volume sought in the application is greater than 20ML you will be required to advertise and notify neighbours, if the volume is 19ML or less, only notification of  neighbours will apply.

What is a Winter Fill Licence?

A Winter Fill Licence entitles the holder to take water to fill a dam, tank or other storage, or apply directly to a crop during the period from 1 July to 31 October annually. All flow occurring outside of this period must be passed downstream.

Can I include lands onto my existing licence which are non-contiguous?

No, all lands must be adjoining, except where the parcels of land are separated by a road or stream. Other exceptions may apply; however, you should contact the licencing team for further clarification.

Do I need to meter?

Works must be metered when requested by the Authority. Once a meter is installed it becomes the property of GMW to maintain.

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