Victoria has adopted a new approach to water delivery entitlements in declared systems

The 'place of take approvals' framework is a new approach to water delivery entitlements in Victorian declared systems. It came into effect on 20 November 2023. The new framework:

  • clarifies and protects existing water users’ rights to take water during the rare event that river rationing is required
  • provides flexibility for water users to manage their own delivery risks.

Declared systems are the regulated Murray, Goulburn, Campaspe, Loddon, Broken, Bullarook, Ovens, Werribee and Thomson-Macalister systems.

The new approach does not affect anyone’s water shares, it simply clarifies the right (entitlement) to have water delivered.

The changes:

  • Give water users more certainty about their rights to have water delivered down our rivers and enable more flexibility to manage their own delivery risks.
  • Enable the Minister to make rules to cap and allow for the trade of these delivery rights.
  • Protect the rights of existing entitlement holders in water systems where delivery risks are increasing.
  • Give water users confidence there are strong penalties to protect them from impacts of others taking more than their fair share during any river rationing.

A fact sheet and a set of frequently asked questions are available, which explain the changes and what those changes mean for water users.

PDFDownload PDF: Fact Sheet: Place of Take Approvals (November 2023) (331 KB)
PDFDownload PDF: FAQs: Place of Take Approvals (November 2023) (260 KB)

As part of commencement of the new framework on 20 November 2023, existing approvals have been converted into place of take approvals in accordance with conversion rules. A copy of the consolidated conversion rules and a fact sheet on what this means for river diverters is available below.

PDFDownload Fact Sheet: Converting existing approvals – river diverters (August 2023) (398 KB)
Download Minister's Conversion Rules for Place of Take Approvals (370 KB)

Four short animations are available, outlining what the new framework means for different types of water users.

Rationing areas declared

The Minister for Water has declared rationing areas for all river reaches in declared systems. These areas represent where all water users within the same rationing area will be restricted equally if a river shortfall event occurs.

The areas have been designed to provide flexibility to manage restrictions to respond to different types of shortfalls, so that water users are not restricted for too long or in areas where it’s not necessary.

PDFDownload PDF Declaration of rationing areas in declared systems (233 KB)

Caps on extraction share in areas with higher delivery risks

In the Ovens system and the Murray system downstream of Barmah, a cap on extraction share has been introduced. This means that the issuing of new extraction share is limited and river diverters seeking to increase their extraction share need to do so via trade.

Fact sheets on what this means for river diverters in these areas are below.

PDFDownload PDF: Fact Sheet: Extraction share cap and trade in the Murray (November 2023) (298 KB)
PDFDownload PDF: Fact Sheet: Extraction share cap and trade in the Ovens (November 2023) (435 KB)

Extraction share land-based limits

In all water systems there are limits on how much extraction share can be held on land. In un-capped areas, these land-based limits are consistent with how extraction share was issued when water rights were unbundled in 2007 in northern Victoria and 2008 in southern Victoria. In capped areas, these ensure no one holds more extraction share than they reasonably need to manage their delivery risks.

Ministerial place of take rules

The issuing of place of take approvals and extractions share, as well as cap and trade rules, are governed by rules set by the Minister for Water. A copy of these rules is available below.

PDFDownload PDF: Ministerial rules for managing general place of take approvals (November 2023) (364 KB)

River Murray delivery risks

In the River Murray downstream of Barmah, there has always been a risk of not being able to deliver all the water that people are entitled to during peak demand periods over summer and autumn. The river is actively managed to avoid restricting water users wherever possible.

However, a shortfall can occur if in the Murray there is either:

  • a heatwave and a sudden spike in demand (a delivery shortfall)
  • not enough capacity in the system to supply water to meet all downstream needs throughout the summer and autumn (a system shortfall).

More information about Murray delivery risks and shortfalls is available here including:

  • what's changing in the system
  • what is being done to respond to increasing delivery risks
  • current shortfall risk
  • what does a shortfall mean for water users
  • shortfall response plans.

On this webpage, notional rationing rate under section 3(1) of the Water Act 1989 is referred to as 'extraction share’.

Geothermal Groundwater Licensing Guidelines

The Geothermal Groundwater Licensing Guidelines outline rural water corporations’ powers under the Water Act 1989 to approve section 51 take and use licences for ‘non-consumptive’ purposes and section 76 approvals to dispose water from geothermal uses and confirm that the rural Water Corporations may require reinjection conditions. To do this, the Guidelines provide:

  • criteria to indicate whether reinjection would be an appropriate condition for rural water corporations to require;
  • guidance on the application process for a geothermal reinjection scheme and an indicative risk assessment process for delegates; and
  • guidance that licensing of the resource may be undertaken on the basis of nett permitted extraction volume (i.e. amount extracted minus amount reinjected) if reinjection is required and it is clear that the purpose of this approach is to preserve the water resource and the Permissible Consumptive Volume (PCV – groundwater cap).

The Guidelines detail the application and risk-based assessment processes for rural water corporations to determine how much groundwater can be taken and how much water will need to be reinjected back into the source aquifer, where reinjection is proposed or required.

The Guidelines also provide a risk-based approach to “nett permitted extraction volume”’ licensing. The nett permitted extraction volume is the gross permitted extraction volume of water authorised to be taken and used under a section 51 licence minus the volume of water required to be reinjected back into the source aquifer and for which an approval under section 76 is required.

Where an application for a licence is made under section 51 and a PCV applies, the rural water corporation must ensure that the “nett permitted extraction volume” is not exceeded so that the objective of setting a PCV is achieved. 

The Guidelines can be downloaded here:

The Guidelines should be read in conjunction with the:

For further information please contact your rural water corporation or

An allocation account records allocations  made to your water share throughout the year.  It keeps track of any water you hold that is available to use or trade.

Your allocation account is maintained securely on the Water Register.  Along with allocations made to your water entitlements, it records all your use, trade and carryover.

The account is sometimes called an ABA, which is shorthand for ‘allocation bank account’.  However the word  ‘bank’  isn’t used widely anymore as it was confused with financial banks.

How it works

All your water shares must be linked to an allocation account to record the allocation available to you.

Allocation accounts can also be linked to one or more water-use licences or water-use registrations so that the water can be used on land.

You can have more than one water share linked to the same allocation account, but each water share must have the same trading zone as the account.

Who holds the account

From 1 July 2014 allocation account holders do not change if a water share is linked to the account or removed from it.

This means you can link your water share to an allocation account that you do not hold and where your name is not on the account. This is legally called a standing direction where future allocations made to the water share go to the account holder.

Until 30 June 2014 the holders of an allocation account were usually the owners of the water shares linked to the account. If no water shares were linked to the account, the account holders were the owners of any water-use licences or registrations linked to the account. These account holders could change when a water entitlement was linked or removed from the account.

Using your allocation

When you have allocation in your account you can either

  • use it on land linked to your account by a water-use licence or registration, or
  • sell  it to other allocation account holders by trading it to another account.

Trading zone

The trading zone of your allocation account decides where you can buy and sell allocation.

What happens to unused allocation

If carryover is allowed in your water system, you can carry over your unused allocation depending on the water entitlements linked to your account.

You can use the carryover calculator online to understand how carryover rules work for your account and the water entitlements linked to it.

Your allocation account online

You can get online access to your allocation accounts on the Victorian Water Register website. Find out more here.

Here you can quickly and easily:

  • see up to date allocation account balances and recent transactions
  • generate account statements for the current season
  • see your statements for previous seasons, and
  • apply to trade allocation from your account.

There is now faster and cheaper and automated approval  of allocation trades submitted online to the Water Register’s secure website. Water users and brokers can submit applications online using My water. Most trades can be approved immediately and you can get water into your allocation accounts more quickly.

Your allocation account statement

An annual statement is sent to the allocation account holders around July each year. 

It gives you a summary of the allocations, water use, trade and carryover linked to the allocation account over the previous water year. 

 Guides to reading your allocation account statement are available below.

Note that these statements are only available for allocation accounts for water entitlements in declared water systems.

System Management Instruments

There are three main instruments of appointment for managing systems in Victoria specified under the Water Act 1989: storage manager, resource manager and seasonal determination appointments.

Storage Manager

The Minister for Water has appointed storage managers under section 122ZK of the Water Act 1989 for large, regulated water systems which supply multiple bulk/environmental entitlement holders.

The functions of storage managers are specified in section 122ZL of the Water Act 1989. Obligations (which specify what storage managers are required to do) are conferred on storage managers by the relevant bulk/environmental entitlements in the water system. Obligations may differ between water supply systems to allow for the flexibility required in managing different systems.

Generally, storage managers manage and control water resources in water systems. General responsibilities include:

  • Managing releases for entitlement holders;
  • Making passing flow releases;
  • Accounting for inflows and water stored in the system; and
  • Making decisions around transferring water between multiple reservoirs in a system.

In some non-declared systems, where there is no section 64GA (seasonal determination) appointment, storage managers make seasonal allocations to entitlement holders.

Resource manager

The Minister for Water has appointed resource managers under section 43A(1)(b) of the Water Act 1989. The Water Act 1989 does not specify any functions for resource managers, so this role is defined by the obligations conferred on resource managers by the bulk entitlements relevant to the appointment.

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning is currently reviewing all resource manager appointments to see if they are still required or are redundant.

As part of the review, several resource manager appointments have been found to be redundant (contain no active obligations) and lapsed on 31 January 2022. These include Southern Rural Water’s resource manager appointment, Grampians Wimmera Mallee Water’s resource manager appointment and Goulburn-Murray Water’s resource manager appointments for the Kiewa, Loddon and Goulburn basins. Melbourne Water’s appointment for the Melbourne Headworks System Bulk Entitlements and Desalinated Water Bulk Entitlements is also redundant and was revoked on 9 September 2022.

Seasonal determinations

The Water Act 1989 allows the Minister for Water to appoint an authority to be responsible for making seasonal determinations in respect of declared water systems under section 64GA. The appointed water corporation is required to determine and publicly announce the water that is available in that system for each entitlement type.

Seasonal determinations instruments of appointment

Goulburn-Murray Water’s appointment includes the Broken, Bullarook, Goulburn, Loddon, Campaspe, Murray and Ovens declared water systems.

pdfAppointment GMW Seasonal determinations(PDF - 116 Kb)

Southern Rural Water’s appointment includes the Thomson/Macalister and Werribee declared water systems.

pdfAppointment SRW Seasonal determinations(PDF - 120 Kb)

How carryover works on the Murray, Goulburn & Campaspe

This fact sheet explains how carryover and spillable water work on the Murray, Goulburn and Campaspe systems.

pdfDownload PDF Fact Sheet 1: How carryover works on the Murray, Goulburn & Campaspe

New spill rule on the Murray

The spill rule for carryover on the Murray system is changing for season 2013-14.

pdfDownload PDF Fact sheet 2: New spill rule on the Murray 

Limiting carryover to your water share volume

A limit on carryover will apply so that entitlement holders cannot carry over more than their full water share volume.

pdfDownload PDF Fact sheet 3: Limiting carryover to your water share volume

Electing to not carry over your unused allocation

Murray, Goulburn and Campaspe water entitlement holders can elect not to carry over some or all of their unused allocation into 2013-14 and future seasons by returning it to the pool of water for new allocations.

pdfDownload PDF Fact sheet 4: Electing to not carry over your unused allocation 

Charges for storing more than your entitlement

Water users will always be charged when they carry over and store more water than their entitlement in the dams.

pdfDownload PDF Fact sheet 5: Charges for storing more than your entitlement

Why you can't use your spillable water

This fact sheet explains what a low-risk-of-spill declaration means for your spillable water.

pdfDownload PDF Fact sheet 6: Why you can’t use your spillable water

New controls on allocation trade

New controls on allocation trade to the Victorian Murray and between states are being implemented to avoid sudden trade suspensions.

pdfDownload PDF Fact sheet 7: New controls on allocation trade

An early reserve to suit the modernised Goulburn system

From next season less water will be set aside in early reserves to reflect the delivery efficiencies achieved through the Goulburn-Murray Water Connections Project.

pdfDownload PDF Fact sheet 8: An early reserve to suit the modernised Goulburn system

An early reserve for the Murray system

New arrangements for the Murray reserve policy are being brought in for season 2013.

pdfDownload PDF Fact sheet 9: An early reserve for the Murray system

Notes and disclaimers

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning does not warrant the data is current nor does it warrant that the data or the data capturing processes are free from corruption or error. If there are issues with this report, please click here to let us know.

What is a spillable water account?

Spillable water is any carryover or allocations above your water share volume.

A spillable water account is a feature of your allocation account (ABA) linked to your water share.

As part of your allocation account recorded on the Victorian Water Register, it keeps track of any water that can be lost if the dam spills.

Once your full water share volume is reached, any further allocation increases are recorded in your allocation account, but this water is set aside as spillable.

You cannot use or trade any water in your spillable account until after the Resource Manager makes a low-risk-of-spill declaration.

Spillable water accounts allow you to use extra dam space when it's not needed to support other entitlements.

When the dams are full, spillable water has to make way for inflows to support new allocations to all water shares.

Why can't I use my spillable water before a declaration?

To make sure that it is always possible to keep track of the water that needs to spill when inflows come into the dam, you cannot use or trade your spillable water.

Keeping track of the water that needs to spill while allowing use would require daily metering of all entitlement holders' water use.

This would also have to be recorded daily in the Victorian Water Register so that any spilled water was shared fairly among entitlement holders' accounts.

The technology to support this is not currently available for all entitlement holders.

Having to own water share volume to secure access reinforces the importance and value of these entitlements.

What problem is the new Murray spill rule trying to fix?

When water users carry over water it is kept in the dams for the new season.

When new inflows come in, this extra water kept in storage has to make way when the dam space is needed.

New inflows are what supports allocations to everyone's water shares. If new inflows spill because of water that has been carried over, then allocations are affected.

The Dartmouth spill rule has not worked well in the recent wetter years.

Water carried over has contributed to spills of new inflows from Hume Dam, and this has affected allocations.

The new Hume-based spill rule will protect new allocations to existing water shares.

How are Hume and Dartmouth Dams used?

Victoria has a half share of the capacity of Lake Hume and Lake Dartmouth. New South Wales controls the other half of these dams.

Victoria can store its share of inflows in Victoria's half of these storages.

Water is released first from Hume Dam to meet Victoria's commitments through the season.

Water is released from Dartmouth when it's needed to supplement supplies from Hume. Generally, Dartmouth is used as a reserve storage that supports supplies in dry years.

So while the level of Hume can rise and fall greatly each year, Dartmouth can stay full for many years until it's drawn down in dry years. Dartmouth can take several years to recover after it is drawn down, as we saw recently.

This document shows modelled monthly storage levels and spills from Victoria's shares of Hume and Dartmouth over the last 23 years, with discussion of how the new Hume-based spill rule would have worked through that period.

pdfDownload PDF Hume and Dartmouth behaviour 1989 to 2012 (PDF - 60 Kb)

Where can I find more information about the new controls on trade?

Further explanation of the new controls on allocation trade, including a number of questions and answers is available in the document below

pdfDownload PDF Victoria refines controls on allocation trade between valleys (PDF - 92 Kb)

Where can I buy and sell allocation now?

You can track the trade opportunities available from this website here.

Select your trading zones to see any limits that currently apply on trade in from other zones.

More detail on how these limits are determined can be found under the heading Click here for the data that leads to the limits above.

How does carryover affect people trading water shares?

If you plan to buy a Murray, Goulburn or Campaspe water share or enter into a limited term transfer of a water share it is important to factor in how the carryover recorded against it can affect:

  • allocations to that water share in the current season, or
  • fees levied against that water share in the current season, like charges for storing more than your entitlement volume.

The document below provides information for water share buyers to consider.

pdfDownload PDF Information for buyers on carryover recorded against water shares - updated October 2013 (PDF - 901 Kb)

Any volume of carryover recorded against a water share in the current season is displayed on the Copy of Record you can download from the Victorian Water Register website..

The Copy of Record also displays the amount of water stored above the volume of that water share.  This amount may incur above entitlement storage fees.

Above entitlement storage fees are charged to the owner of a water share.

Unlike the fixed entitlement storage fees, these charges may not be raised until late in the season. So, if this water share is transferred, then the buyer may be responsible for paying these charges later in the current season.

It is important to know that if you buy a water share before the above entitlement storage fees are raised, you will be liable for any above entitlement storage charges issued later in the year for that water share.

Charges apply for each megalitre of carryover or allocation stored above your water share volume.

There is no charge for any water lost from a spillable water account if a dam spills.

The charges for each basin are available in the pricing plans of the rural water corporations Goulburn-Murray Water and Lower Murray Water.

Buyers also need to know if further allocation increases made to the water share will go directly into the available balance of the allocation account, or will be quarantined in the spillable water account until a low-risk-of-spill declaration is made.

When do the changes from the carryover review come into effect?

The new limits on trade from the Goulburn, Campaspe and Loddon are now in effect.

The limits on trade into the Victorian Murray from NSW come into effect on 10 January 2013.

You will be able to apply to relinquish unused allocation from April 2013.

The new limit on how much can be carried over will apply on the Goulburn and Campaspe systems to any unused in your account on 30 June 2013 at the end of this season.

On the Murray, this limit will now come into effect for any unused in your account on 30 June 2014, following the recent announcement by the Minister.

All other changes will come into effect from 1 July 2013, including

  • The new Murray spill rule
  • The changes to the charges for storing more than your entitlement volume.
  • The changes to the Goulburn and Murray system early reserve policies.

The document below summarises when each of the changes from the carryover review come into effect.

pdfDownload PDF When the changes from the carryover review come into effect (PDF - 59 Kb)

What are some of the trade-offs involved in carryover decisions?

Carryover, like water trading, provides entitlement holders with more opportunities to manage their own water water availability.

People will use carryover and trade differently to best meet the needs of their enterprise.

The paper below discusses some of the factors to consider in making carryover decisions. It uses some simple case studies to illustrate some of the financial costs and benefits of decisions to carry over or trade unused allocation in different scenarios.

pdfDownload PDF Understanding the trade-offs associated with carryover decisions (PDF - 307 Kb)

Available water by owner type

Tooltip 1

Notes and disclaimers

This report summarises the water available in a system and how it is split between private water holders, the environment and water corporations. Note that this data includes all allocation accounts with regulated trading zone sources within the selected water system (including water shares and bulk entitlements).
In the table:

  • Adjustments includes all allocation adjustments made between 2 July and 29 June inclusive, write off adjustments that are greater than 0 ML and overuse transactions.
  • Seasonal allocation includes any spill allocation issued in the Thomson/Macalister and Ovens water systems.
  • Write off 30 June excludes allocation carried forward into the next water year.

If there are issues with this report please click here to let us know.

Discover how carryover works and how you can use it in your farm business.

A presentation to irrigators in northern Victoria by Joe Banks from DEPI's Water and Natural Resources explains the carryover rule changes of 2012 and shows how you can use the carryover calculator to work through your own scenarios.

Goulburn system dairy farmers Craig Lister and Don Stewart and Steve and Margot Henty on the Murray system talk about how they plan and manage carryover through drought and wetter years.

Carryover explained

Farmers talk about carryover

1. Summary of carryover changes 1. Farm background
2. Carryover calculator - how carryover works 2. Past carryover use
3. The Murray spill rule 3. Benefits and risks of carryover
4. The carryover cap 4. Deciding how much to carry over
5. Other changes to carryover rules 5. Planning for the carryover cap
6. Goulburn & Murray early reserve 6. The early reserve policy

Summary of carryover changes

An overview of the main changes announced in 2012 from the review of carryover rules for the Murray, Goulburn & Campaspe systems.

The carryover calculator - how carryover works

How carryover rules work in the Murray, Goulburn & Campaspe systems, and how you can use the carryover calculator on the Victorian Water Register website to test your own scenarios and plan your water for next season.

The Murray spill rule

A more detailed explanation of the Murray spill rule for carryover in the Victorian Murray from 1 July 2013.

The carryover cap

Explaining the cap on carryover which started on the Goulburn and Campaspe systems in 2013, and comes in on the Murray system from 30 June 2014.

Other changes to carryover rules

More about other changes - including allowing entitlement holders to relinquish unused allocation and new limits on trade between valleys.

Goulburn & Murray early reserve policies

Changes to the early reserve policy on the Goulburn and Murray systems announced in 2012.

Farm background

Craig Lister, Don Stewart and Steve and Margot Henty describe their farm businesses and water entitlements.

Past carryover use

How the farmers have used carryover since the drought and through wetter years.

Benefits and risks of carryover

Using carryover as insurance against dry conditions, late allocations or a dry start to the season in August.  Risks of losing carryover when the dam spills and the need to understand the Hume-based spill rule on the Murray system.

Deciding how much to carry over

Considering the Resource Manager's seasonal outlook, autumn conditions and prospects for spring watering, assets and resources, dam levels, feed costs and commodity prices.

Planning for the carryover cap

Having a carryover plan and owning enough water share and a share of dam space.

The early reserve policy

The comfort of having water delivered early in the season so that water can be used most efficiently in spring to grow feed and get water onto the farm.

These videos are provided with support and funding from the Victorian Government through Linking Farms and Catchments to Modernisation and Growing Food and Fibre initiatives. These videos have been delivered primarily through partnerships between the Department of Environment and Primary Industries, Water Corporations, Catchment Management Authorities and other bodies, and include additional footage provided by Goulburn-Murray Water.