Licencing Information  

Who needs a Licence?

You can not take and use water from a waterway without a Surface Water Licence. Under specific circumstances and where water is only to be used solely for Domestic and/or Stock purposes, water can be taken without a licence under what is known as a Private Right. To establish whether this is available, applicants must complete a ‘Private Right Determination' through Goulburn-Murray Water (GMW). All other purposes require a Surfacewater Licence.

Who issues Licenses?

Goulburn-Murray Water issues licenses to take and use water under the provisions of Section 51 of the Water Act 1989, and to operate the associated works under Section 67 of the Water Act 1989.

How long is a Surface Water Licence valid for?

A Surface Water Licence can be issued for a maximum period of 15 years, although most are issued for a period of 1 year.

What does a Surface Water Licence allow me to do?

A Surface Water Licence allows you to take and use water for domestic and/or stock, irrigation, commercial or other purposes. A licence details how much water you can take and use for the nominated purpose each year. Licenses also contain specific conditions which relate to maximum extraction rates, maximum authorised area, authorised purposes and other obligations you are required to adhere to ensure the licence remains valid.

What is a Winter Fill Licence?

A Surface Water Licence is termed a Winter Fill Licence if it contains conditions which limit the extraction of water during a specified period.

Winter Fill Licence entitles the holder to take water to fill a dam, tank or other storage, or apply directly to a crop over the period of 1 July to 31 October in any year. All flow occurring outside of this period must be passed.

How do I get a licence volume?

Domestic and/or Stock water can not be purchased through GMW, as water must be transferred from an existing entitlement holder. This is a separate process called a ‘Permanent Transfer'.

What is a zero volume Licence?

If you are applying for a licence to be associated with a farm dam you may initially be given a Licence with a zero volume. This will allow you to temporarily or permanently transfer a Licence entitlement from another user. Goulburn-Murray Water will not finalise any application to transfer entitlement until it has been secured.

Do I need to meter my surfacewater use?

Currently all new Surface Water Licenses must be metered. Metering is a Government policy to improve management of surfacewater resources. Goulburn-Murray Water will provide you with the necessary information required to purchase and install a flow meter. The installation can be carried out by you or alternatively you can arrange for GMW to carry out the installation. Once a meter is installed it becomes the property of GMW.

Private Right

What is a Private Right?

When a landowner has Private Rights to Water, they have the right to take and use water each year without a licence and free of charge, for Domestic and/or Stock purposes only.What is the meaning of Domestic and/or Stock?

The term Domestic and/or Stock use is defined as:

  • household purpose; or
  • watering of animals kept as pets; or
  • watering of cattle or other stock; or
  • irrigation of a kitchen garden up to 0.1 hectares, but does not include use for dairies, piggeries, feed lots, poultry or any other intensive or commercial use.

What if I want to use the water for any purpose other then Domestic and/or Stock?

A Private Right to Water only refers to Domestic and/or Stock use. If water is to be used for any other purpose, a Licence to take and use water is required. Please contact Goulburn-Murray Water's Diversions Administration area on (03) 5833 5500 for licensing requirements.

When does a Private Right exist?

A landowner may have a Private Right to Water under Section 8 of the Water Act 1989, when there is no Crown Land, Road Reserve or Public Purposes Reserve separating their property from the waterway.

The Private Right is limited to points where the waterway abuts or transverses their property. If a Crown Allotment that would enjoy a Private Right was subdivided before 1 November 1990, all of the lots within that Subdivision that are traversed or abutted by the waterway are eligible to gain the Private Right.

If a Crown Allotment that would enjoy a Private Right was subdivided after 1 November 1990, only one of the lots that is traversed or abutted by the waterway would be eligible to gain the Private Right.

For further licensing information please contact: Goulburn-Murray Water, Licensing Administration Unit, PO Box 165, TATURA VIC 3616 or call us on (03) 5833 5500

Farm Dams

When do I need a Licence?

All dams that are used for irrigation or commercial purposes require a take and use Licence, whether the dam is on a waterway or in the general Catchment. You will need a Licence for the period of time that you wish to take and use water out of the dam.  

Is there an application fee for a Licence?

There is an application fee for a Licence to take and use water if the dam is to be used for irrigation or commercial purposes. There will also be an application fee for a Licence to construct a dam on a waterway or if it is a large dam that requires conditions on the Licence concerning dam safety.  

How do I know if a dam is on a waterway?

The proposed dam site needs to be inspected by Goulburn-Murray Water to complete a waterway determination. It is advisable that you contact Goulburn-Murray Water prior to any construction work commencing. 

If I want to build a dam for irrigation or commercial use - what must I do?

If you want to build a dam for irrigation or commercial use you must obtain a Licence to use water from the dam prior to construction. Depending on the location and size of the dam, you may also need a Licence to construct and operate the dam.  

What rules apply to large dams?

Operating Licenses are now required for large dams to ensure that dam owners take proper precautions to protect life and property. If you are proposing to build a large dam you must obtain an operating Licence prior to commencement. There will be conditions on the Licence relating to the dam safety that will vary depending on the size, location and potential hazard of the dam.  Contact Goulburn-Murray Water for further information.  

Can I transfer my Licence?

You are able to transfer your Licence, but transfers are subject to approval and must be within the trading rules.   

What should I do if I am buying a property with a Dam on it?

If you are buying a property that has a dam, it is recommended that you check with the local Licensing Authority to find out what Licenses and requirements are related to the property.