Water Use Compliance

Water is a precious and limited resource. It is critical to our economy, environment, and communities and needs to be managed fairly for all water users. This why the Victorian Government and GMW have a zero-tolerance approach to unauthorised take of water.

Under the Water Act 1989 (Act), GMW is responsible for the compliance and enforcement of the rules and legislative requirements for the take and use of water and construction of works on a waterway.

A dark blue and light blue banner with the words Zero Tolerance on Water Theft


Our approach to compliance and enforcement is risk-based and responsive, so our actions reflect the seriousness of the offence.  GMW has a Compliance and Enforcement Strategy which sets out how GMW investigates and acts on any non-compliance quickly and in a transparent and consistent manner.

GMW is continuing to invest in modern metering and telemetry to improve monitoring of groundwater and surface water use. For more information please refer to our  Metering Action Plan.

Your rights and obligations

It’s your responsibility to comply with the Water Act 1989. Before you take and use water, you should make sure you:

  • have the right authorisations
  • have enough water available in your entitlement and allow enough time for Temporary or Permanent Trades to be processed
  • check your meter reading and water usage against your licenced volume
  • check if restrictions and/or bans apply

Reporting breaches of compliance

If you see something, say something.  You can report an alleged offence or breach of the Act, by:

You can remain anonymous when submitting information, but please keep in mind that your decision for anonymity may limit our ability to conduct a complete investigation.

Targets and reporting

Each year we report our compliance and enforcement activities in our Annual Report.

GMW has adopted the state-wide key performance indicators for unauthorised take. GMW aims for:

  • no more than one per cent of volume of total water taken is above authorisation, and
  • no more than three per cent of accounts are to be in negative at any time.

Results are calculated annually and published in our Annual Report.

More information

Channel water being released through a flume gate
Channel water flowing through a flume gate.

Fact sheet: What are GMW's compliance powers?

GMW is responsible for the compliance and enforcement of rules and legislative requirements surrounding the take and use of water and construction of works.
An image of flume gates on a channel

Fact sheet: How do I report an alleged offence?

Water theft affects everyone in your community because there’s limited water to go around. If you see something, say something.
Water flowing through a channel

Fact sheet: What is an offence under the Water Act?

Information about what constitutes an offence under the Water Act 1989.

Penalty Infringement Notices

In Victoria new regulations are in place which enable water corporations, including Goulburn-Murray Water (GMW) to fine water users for water theft and other offences, by issuing penalty infringement notices (PINs).

Unauthorised water take: Exceeding your water entitlement

There are many ways you can avoid exceeding your water entitlement.
A channel bank that has been damaged by stock walking on it.


Further information and links

Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning (DELWP) resources: