What licences do I need?

Goulburn-Murray Water (GMW) plays an essential role in the sustainable management of groundwater for local communities and the environment in northern Victoria.

Managing how much groundwater can be taken under licences is the foundation of sustainable management.

How do I become a groundwater user?

Before you use groundwater from a bore (other than for domestic or stock purposes) you will need a Works (Operate) Licence and a Take and Use Licence are required.

  • A Works (Operate) licence contains rules that relate to how a bore can be operated, such as how much water can be taken in a day.
  • A Take and Use licence (often referred to as a groundwater licence) sets the volume that a person can take from a bore in a year and other associated conditions.

If you don't already have a bore, you will need a Bore Construction Licence to drill for groundwater even if you're only going to use it for domestic and stock purposes or groundwater monitoring. This licence must be issued before any bore drilling or construction commences.

For Groundwater and Bore Construction Licence Application Forms, click here. Alternatively, you can now save money and time by applying for a bore construction licence for domestic, stock, investigation, observation or monitoring purposes  online.

For further licensing information, please contact the GMW Licensing Administration team on 1800 013 357 or read our Groundwater Licence Application Process fact sheet .

Constructing a bore

Before you construct, alter or replace a groundwater bore greater than three metres in depth you need to obtain a Bore Construction Licence.

If you want to construct a bore for domestic, stock, investigation, observation or monitoring purpose, you can apply online through My Water.

If you plan on using your bore for any other reason, you’ll need to apply for a Bore Construction Licence through Goulburn-Murray Water.

The forms can be downloaded here:

When can I drill and construct a bore?

Bores can only be drilled and constructed by licensed drillers.  Drilling can only begin once you have obtained a Bore Construction Licence.

A list of licensed drillers is available from the Australian Driller's Industry Association website.

When can I take and use water from my bore?

You must apply for a Licence to Take and Use Groundwater before taking groundwater from the bore for all purposes other than Domestic and/or Stock use.

Will I be able to find water of good quality and yield?

The level of salt in groundwater can impact what the water can be used for, for example if it’s too salty some plants may not be able to tolerate it.

You can find out about the groundwater quality, yield and depths of nearby bores at Visualising Victoria’s Groundwater (VVG) – a map tool that provides details on existing groundwater bores across Victoria.

You can also get an idea of aquifer depths, quality and yield from Groundwater Resource Reports – a map tool managed by the Victorian Government.

What about groundwater pollution?

Groundwater can become polluted from different land uses such as landfill, fuel storage and septic systems this may affect what the water can be used for.

 Before you drill a bore, you should check with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to see your property is in a Groundwater Quality Restricted Use Zone or near a site which has potential to pollute groundwater.

The EPA has a mapping tool that may help with this, alternately, they can be contacted on 1300 372 842.

Decommissioning bores

If a bore is damaged and can't be fixed, or is no longer required, it must be properly decommissioned. This reduces the potential for contamination reaching the groundwater.

Before a bore is decommissioned, a licence must be obtained from GMW.

For further licensing information please contact: Goulburn-Murray Water, Licensing Administration Unit, PO Box 165, TATURA VIC 3616 or call 1800 013 537.


Water Use Compliance

Water is a precious and limited resource. It is critical to our economy, environment and communities. This is why water needs to managed fairly for all water users. GMW takes a zero-tolerance approach to water theft to ensure equity of access to limited water resources and protects those who are doing the right thing.

It’s illegal to take and use more water than allowed under your entitlement. Whenever a little more water is taken than is allowed, it can easily add up and there is limited water to go around.

Water theft affects everyone in your community and it is important that individual water users do not adversely impact other users or Victoria’s environmental values. Individual water users should make sure they have the right authorisations before they take water from a dam, bore, stream, river, creek or irrigation channel.

A zero-tolerance to water theft provides equity of access to limited water resources and protects those who are doing the right thing. If you see something, say something. To report an alleged breach/offence, phone us on 1800 013 357. 

For more information on compliance and enforcement at GMW, please see our Water Use Compliance page.