A water-use licence is an entitlement to irrigate a specific parcel or parcels of land. The licence sets out the conditions for use, such as how much water you can use on your land in a single irrigation season.

You need a water-use licence if you’re supplied with water for irrigation from the regulated Murray, Goulburn, Broken, Loddon, Campaspe, Bullarook, Werribee or Macalister systems.

The licence is tied to the land. If you sell your property the water-use licence automatically transfers to the new owner, unless part of the property is sold separately.

Water-use registration

A water-use registration authorises the use of water apart from irrigation, like stock and domestic or some industrial uses.

Ownership

The holder of a water-use licence is always the owner of the land described in the licence.
 
When the land is sold the water-use licence stays with the land and goes to the new owner.

If land covered by a single water-use licence is subdivided, it is necessary to have a separate water-use licence for each separate piece of land.

Conditions

Conditions recorded on each water-use licence are specific to local areas and so they vary across Victoria, however there are a number of standard conditions including an annual use limit to ensure irrigation is carried out in accordance with water-use objectives.

An annual use limit is a condition on every water-use licence which defines:

  • the volume of water you can use under the licence in any one year
  • the volume of water share you can link to your land – this is called your holding limit and is usually twice your annual use limit
  • how much allocation can be traded into your allocation account.

pdfDownload PDF Standard water-use conditions (689 Kb)
pdfDownload PDF Water-use objectives (105 Kb)

Your responsibilities

If you are not sure about your licence conditions please contact your water corporation. Offences include

  • Using water without authorisation
  • Failing to comply with a contravention notice for using water in a way that does not meet the conditions of your licence
  • Tampering with metering equipment.

Penalties may apply and may increase for repeated offences.

Applying to change annual use limit

If you want to increase the annual use limit on water-use licence, you need to apply to the water corporation to assess whether it can approve the change.

You will need to demonstrate that the proposed increase in irrigation will not cause harmful effects like waterlogging, salinity and nutrient impacts.

In some parts of north-west Victoria where salinity is a serious problem, there is a limit on the total annual use volume.

This means you may have to buy annual use limit from another water-use licence holder in your region to increase your limit.   

Fees

You don’t generally pay annual fees for your water-use licence, unless you are in a designated salinity impact zone.

In certain circumstances you may need to pay a small fee every year for each megalitre of annual use limit created since 1993 in a salinity impact zone.

Also if  you want to apply for a new water-use licence or vary your existing licence, your water corporation may charge fees.

Water-use in Salinity Impact Zones

Water-use licences in specific areas of the Victorian Mallee designated as salinity impact zones are managed according to policy. The policies and a map is available below.

pdfDownload PDF Policies for Managing Water-use Licences in Salinity Impact Zones (311 Kb)
pdfDownload PDF Map of Salinty Impact Zones (1.3 MB)

Copy of record

You can download a copy of record to get the full details of any water-use licence from the Water Register here.

You will need to enter the water-use licence identification number and pay the relevant $13.90 fee.

Details on a copy of record include the description of the land on which the water can be used, the owner, the conditions of use, the annual use limit, the water share holding limit and the trading zone for water use. 

A sample copy of record is available below.