Water Smarts

Water Smarts

Our lakes, dams and reservoirs are great places to play, as long as you remember to take your Water Smarts with you!

Click to download our Water Smarts poster

Our Water Smarts campaign highlights the risks and hazards we regularly see on our water storages. It seeks to remind recreational users what they need to do to ensure their safety and the safety of others in their care.

The most common risky behaviours on GMW's lakes, dams and reservoirs are:

  1. Speeding
  2. Not wearing lifejackets
  3. Boating alone
  4. Not checking the conditions or water levels before launching boats
  5. Drinking too much alcohol
  6. Being unaware of hazards like submerged rocks, sandbars, trees, shallow water and debris
  7. Diving from dam walls or ledges


Be Throttle Smart

A 5 knot speed limit applies at any water level within 50 metres of the water’s edge (unless otherwise indicated), other vessels, navigation aids, swimmers and fixed or floating structures; and within 100 metres of vessels displaying a dive flag.

In addition to this, at very low water levels, some water storages may have a 5 knot speed restriction. Any temporary speed restrictions are signposted at public boat ramps.

At all other times you should travel at a safe speed for the water level and conditions.

Be Jacket Smart


Lifejackets are the most important piece of safety equipment on any recreational vessel, yet about 10 per cent of boaters never wear one [1].

In Victoria it’s a legal requirement for most recreational vessels to carry an appropriate size and type of lifejacket for each person on board. They must be stored or placed to allow quick and easy access and be in good condition and working order.

You can check to see which lifejacket you need to wear using Marine Safety Victoria’s online tool.

For more information about lifejacket laws visit http://www.wearalifejacket.vic.gov.au/lifejacket-laws/

Always make sure you carry all required safety equipment when you head out on the water. 

[1] Transport Safety Victoria, TSV Boating Behaviour Report, March 2015, p.7

Be Mate Smart
Boating alone

Heading out on the water alone can leave you at risk, with no one to assist you if you run into trouble. 

You can stay safe by taking a mate with you. Remember to always let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to be back.

Be Conditions Smart
Checking Conditions

If you’re heading out on the water, make sure you’re aware of the current conditions, including water levels and weather forecasts. 

Always make sure you carry all required safety equipment when you head out on the water.

Be Alcohol Smart
Drinking alcohol

Alcohol is a risk factor for drowning, with 15 per cent of people found to have a positive reading for alcohol in their bloodstream at the time of drowning [1].

Between July 2015 and June 2016, 280 people drowned in Australian waterways. Of these, 44 people were known to have recorded positive readings for alcohol in their bloodstream at the time of drowning [1].

Alcohol and water don’t mix. Don’t drink on the water.

[1] Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report 2016

  Be Hazards Smart

Be aware of navigational hazards above or below the water if you are out on one of our lakes, dams or storages. There can be partially or fully submerged rocks, sandbars, trees shallow water and debris.

There are records of boating accidents that have involved watercraft crashing into a partially submerged tree, with significant consequences.

Always be aware of your surroundings. 

  Be Dive Smart

Never jump from dam walls or ledges. In recent years, Goulburn-Murray Water staff have noted cases of people diving into the water from dangerous vantage points during the summer period.