Melbourne
Water access and use

Water rights, entitlements, allocations and restrictions

a. Introduction

This note provides information about the water access rights granted by jurisdictions to the users of the region's water resources and the associated allocation announcements, diversions, adjustments and forfeitures.

The 2013 Account acknowledges the varying jurisdictional legislative water resource management frameworks related to rights to water that support water resource management in Australia. These water resource management frameworks vary greatly between jurisdictions, sometimes making comparisons difficult. To facilitate meaningful comparisons between the water accounting reports included in the 2013 Account, the Bureau of Meteorology has developed and applied an accounting concept to classify and report water entitlements within a water asset/water liability framework.

According to that framework, water rights for the Melbourne region for the 2012–13 year have been classified as shown in Table 1 and Table 2.

b. Surface water rights

Table 1 summarises the surface water rights for the Melbourne region, including surface water allocations, abstractions, forfeitures, and adjustments during the 2012–13 year.


Table 1 Summarised information on surface water rights, allocations, abstractions, adjustments and forfeitures for the Melbourne region during the 2012–13 year

Water rights (at 30 June 2013)

Water allocation (2012–13)

Water abstraction/use (2012–13)

Forfeiture, adjustment (2012–13)

Account line item

Volume (ML)

Account line item

Volume (ML)

Account line item

Volume (ML)

Account line item

Volume (ML)

32.1 Other statutory surface water rights

n/a

n/a

17.6

n/a

n/a

32.2 Surface water access entitlement for non-allocated diversion

67,572

n/a

n/a

17.7

13,509

n/a

n/a

32.3 Surface water access entitlement for allocated diversions

22,518

21.1

18,302

17.11

11,073

13.1

7,229

466,944

21.2

368,435*

17.12

408,812*

13.2

53,052

4,825

21.4

3,231

17.14

3,231

13.4

0

Total

561,859

 

389,968

 

436,625

 

60,281


  – = no data available

* The water use is greater than water allocation because allocation is actually an increase in the share of storage capacity of which a share already exists at the start of the year (Refer to line item 5.2). The urban water retailers are entitled to divert upto the average annual entitlement limit for the bulk entitlement in the Melbourne region 466,944 ML (refer to line item 32.3)

Note: water allocations (line item 21.2), abstraction/use (line item 17.12) and forfeiture, adjustment (line item 13.2) shown in italics in Table 1 relate to a surface water entitlement held by the urban water system. These line items do not appear in the water accounting statements because they are transactions that occurred within the water stores. These transactions did not impact the region's total water assets and water liabilities.

More information about the items presented in Table 1 is provided in the linked line item notes.

The three urban water retailers (South East Water, Yarra Valley Water, and City West Water) within the Melbourne region also have a total water right of 312, 800 ML to water from outside the region. This imported water right breakdown is as follows: 171,800 ML for Thomson River, 66,000 ML for the Silver and Wallaby creeks, and 75,000 ML for the Goulburn and Murray System.

c. Groundwater rights

Tables 2 summarises the groundwater rights for the Melbourne region, including groundwater allocations, abstractions, adjustments, and forfeitures during the 2012–13 year.

Table 2  Summarised information on groundwater rights, allocations, abstractions, adjustments and forfeitures during the 2012–13 year
Water rights (at 30 June 2013) Water allocation (2012–13) Water abstraction/use (2012–13) Forfeiture, adjustment (2012–13)
Account line item Volume (ML) Account line item Volume (ML) Account line item Volume (ML) Account line item Volume (ML)
33.1 Other statutory groundwater rights n/a
n/a 18.7 n/a n/a
33.2 Groundwater access entitlement for non-allocated extractions n/a n/a 18.8 n/a n/a
33.3 Groundwater access entitlement for allocated diversions 41,579 22.1 41,579 18.11 15,412 14.1 26,167
413 22.2 413 18.12 66 14.2 347
Total 41,992   41,992   15,478   26,514

– = no data available

More information about the items presented in Table 2 is provided in the linked line item notes.

For groundwater, the total water allocation announcement is assumed to equal to 100% of the annual entitlement.

d. Water access restrictions

During the 2012–13 year, bans applied at times to diversions from 17 unregulated streams as well as to irrigation and regulated diversions from some streams (Table 3).

Table 3 Restrictions on waterways in the Melbourne region during the 2012–13 year

Waterway

2012

2013

Jul.

Aug.

Sep.

Oct.

Nov.

Dec.

Jan.

Feb.

Mar.

Apr.

May.

Jun.

Arundel Creek

IB

 

 

 

 

IB

IB

 

 

IB

 

 

Darebin Creek

 

 

 

 

 

IB

 

 

 

IB

 

 

Diamond Creek

 

 

IB

IB

IB

 

IB

IB

IB

 

 

 

Dixons Creek

 

 

IB

IB

IB

IB

IB

IB

IB

IB

IB

IB

Gardiners Creek

 

 

 

 

 

IB

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hoddles Creek

 

 

 

 

 

IB

IB

 

IB

IB

IB

IB

Little Yarra River

 

 

 

 

 

 

R

R

R

R

 

 

Maribyrnong River

 

 

 

IB*

IB*

IB&IB*

IB&IB*

IB*

IB*

IB*

IB*

IB*

Moonee Ponds Creek

IB

 

 

 

 

IB

IB

 

 

IB

 

 

Mullum Mullum Creek

 

 

IB

 

 

IB

IB

 

 

 

 

 

Olinda Creek (lower)

 

 

 

 

 

 

IB

 

 

 

 

 

Pauls Creek

 

 

IB

IB

IB

IB

IB

IB

IB

IB

IB

IB

Steels Creek

 

 

 

IB

IB

IB

IB

IB

IB

IB

IB

IB

Stringybark Creek (lower)

 

 

IB

IB

IB

IB

IB

 

IB

IB

IB

IB

Woori Yallock Creek

 

 

 

 

 

 

R

R

R

R

 

 

Yarra River (lower)

 

 

 

 

 

R

R

 

 

R

R

R

Yarra River (upper)

 

 

 

 

 

R

R

 

R

R

R

 


R = restriction = pumping times or days restricted, in accordance with drought response plan 
IB = irrigation ban 
IB* = irrigation ban (winter fill) 
Note: the restrictions expressed in the above table relate to the restrictions in place on the final day of the month under consideration (and do not necessarily reflect the restrictions in place over the entire month). Only those waterways where restrictions were in place during the 2012–13 year are listed in the table above.

For more information on the irrigation restrictions, please refer to the Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries Monthly Water Reports.

Water market activity

In the Melbourne region, trade of water entitlements is allowed for take and use licences and water shares.

Permanent Trade and lease of take and use licences is only allowed within management units; allocation trade does not occur. Accordingly, surface water trade reported for the Melbourne region during the 2012–13 year includes permanent trade and lease of take and use licences within unregulated waterways. Similarly, groundwater trade reported for the Melbourne region during the 2012–13 year includes permanent trade and lease of take and use licences within groundwater management units.

Under the conditions specified by the Victorian Trading Rules for Declared Water Systems, trading of water allocations is permitted in special circumstances only between the Thomson–Macalister system (outside the Melbourne region) to the Werribee system (within the Melbourne region); however, trading of water shares is not permitted between these two systems. Trading of water allocations and water shares between water systems in the Melbourne region and water systems outside of the Melbourne region did not occur during the 2012–13 year.

All values and information were sourced from the Victorian Annual Water Trading Report 2012/13.

The following table present a summary of surface water and groundwater trade in regulated (water shares) and unregulated (take and use licences) systems in the Melbourne region during the 2012–13 year.

Table 4  Summary of surface water and groundwater entitlement trade and lease in the Melbourne region during the 2012–13 year
Line item Volume (ML) No. of trades
Surface water
35.1 Trade of surface water entitlement within region 2,750 132
36.1 Lease of surface water entitlement within region 622 27
37.1 Surface water allocation trade within region 3,373
n/a
Surface water subtotal 6,745
159
Groundwater
38.1 Trade of groundwater entitlement within region 1,055
23
39.1 Lease of groundwater entitlement within region 922 27
Groundwater subtotal 1,977
50
Total 8,722
209

Water use

a. Economic, social and cultural benefit

Surface water and groundwater resources within the Melbourne region are used for urban water supply, irrigation scheme supply, as well as private water supply for purposes such as agriculture and industry.

  • Economic benefit: For a summary of the water volumes allocated for various economic purposes within the region refer to line items 32.2, 32.3 and 33.3 in tables 1 and 2 of Water rights, entitlements, allocations and restrictions note.

  • Social benefit: Some of the strategies for managing water for social benefit in the region are addressed through Water saving permanent rules, saving water through incentives and rebates schemes, actions to increase urban water recycling and alternative water supplies through Melbourne's Water Future strategy delivered through Office of Living Victoria, which emphasises increase of stormwater and urban water recycling projects.
    Stock and domestic licences for surface water and groundwater basic rights allow the right holders to abstract water to meet basic requirements for household and stock purposes. Urban water entitlements associated with surface water and groundwater allow water utilities to provide water for residential needs.

  • Cultural benefit: Under the Victoria's Water Act 1989 a traditional owner group entities have the right to take and use water for a range of needs without holding a water access licence. This includes accessing water for personal, domestic and non-commercial commual purposes such as: manufacture of traditional artefacts, hunting, fishing and gathering, recreation, cultural purposes, and ceremonial purposes.

b. Environmental benefit

Introduction

Information on legislative, administrative and governing arrangements of environmental water in the region is available in the 'Environmental water management' section of the 'Contextual information'.

Water for environmental benefit in the Melbourne region is provided according to three different environmental water management scenarios:

  • held environmental water
  • planned, partly regulated surface water
  • planned, unregulated surface water. 

For each type of environmental water management scenario, the information, if available, is structured as follows:

  • Environmental water determinations: the environmental objectives that define specific water levels and flow criteria at key representative sites that must be met.
  • Environmental water commitments: the instruments in place to achieve the environmental water determination, fro example, environmental water storage release rules, water access rules to limit abstractions, rules on diversion to wetlands, and annual environmental watering plans.
  • Environmental water outcomes: the water levels and flow conditions that occurred during the year and the extent of the compliance with respect to the criteria set in the environmental water commitments.
Environmental entitlements: held environmental water

Environmental water determination

During the 2012–13 year three environmental water entitlements, held by the Victorian Environmental Water Holder (VEWH), applied to catchments within the Melbourne region:

  • Tarago and Bunyip rivers Environmental Entitlement 2009
  • Consolidated Yarra Environmental Entitlement 2006
  • Werribee River Environmental Entitlement 2011.

Each environmental water entitlements prescribes that an environmental flow regime must be adopted that describes the characteristics of recommended environmental flows for river reaches within the basin including their volume, timing, duration, and rate of change. These details can be found in Schedule 1 of each entitlement.

Environmental water commitment

The VEWH is entitled to:

Environmental water outcome

The VEWH is required to report the annual volume of water released for the environment, the extent to which environmental flows have met the recommended environmental flow regime, and non-compliance with conditions of the entitlement. Melbourre Water Corporation manages environmental bulk entitlements to water from the Thomson, Werribee and Yarra Rivers. During the 2012–13 reporting year Melbourne Water delivered 14 separate environmental flows in the Werribee, Tarago, and Yarra rivers, delivering about 17,000 ML of water to improve river health and meet ecological objectives. As reported in Melbourne Water Annual report 2013, the following releases were done:

  • In the Yarra River, four managed environmental releases occurred, including the largest to date.
  • In the Tarago River the first ever environmental flow took place in November, 2012. With the success of the first release, two additional releases also took place in the reporting year.
  • In the Werribee River system seven environmental flows were completed from the environmental entitlement and additonal water secured through temporary trade.

Information provided here is reported in the Melbourne Water Annual report under "Held Environmental Water" section.


Bulk entitlements: planned partly regulated surface water

Environmental water determination and commitments

Bulk entitlements that are categorised as planned partly regulated surface water are those where there is the provision to make operational releases from storages to provide minimum passing flows.

In the Melbourne region this includes the following bulk entitlements:

  • Southern Rural Water's bulk entitlement to the Maribyrnong
  • Western Water's bulk entitlement to the Maribyrnong
  • Melbourne Water's bulk entitlement to the Maribyrnong
  • The urban retail water authorities (City West Water, South East Water and Yarra Valley Water) bulk entitlement to the Bunyip and Tarago rivers.

Bulk entitlements outline the rules that must be followed when taking or abstracting water, including minimum passing flows that must be maintained at certain compliance points. In these entitlements, water may be released from storage to maintain minimum flows. 

Refer to the Victorian Water Register for information on specific release and passing flow requirements for each of these entitlements.

Environmental water outcomes

The bulk entitlement holder or responsible authority must submit, to the Victorian Minister for Water, a report detailing their compliance with the conditions of the entitlement (in particular the passing flows) during the year. This information is also typically contained in the responsible authority's annual report as a measure of compliance with all provisions of the bulk entitlement.


Bulk entitlements: planned unregulated surface water

Environmental water determination and commitments

Bulk entitlements that are categorised as planned unregulated surface water are those where abstraction is only permitted when minimum passing flow conditions are met.

In the Melbourne region this includes:

  • Southern Rural Water's bulk entitlement to the Werribee system for irrigation
  • The urban retail water authorities (City West Water, South East Water, and Yarra Valley Water) bulk entitlement to the Yarra River
  • Western Water's bulk entitlements to various sources in the Maribyrnong catchment (Gisborne – Baringo Creek, Lancefield, Macedon and Mount Macedon, Riddells Creek and Romsey), and to the Werribee system. 

Bulk entitlements outline the rules that must be followed when abstracting water, including minimum passing flows that must be maintained at certain compliance points. For these entitlements water may not be abstracted, or abstracted at a reduced rate where minimum passing flows are not maintained. In addition, environmental flow requirements for the bulk entitlements to water from the Yarra River are detailed in the State Environment Protection Policy.

Environmental water outcomes

The bulk entitlement holder or responsible authority must submit, to the Victorian Minister for Water, a report detailing their compliance with the conditions of the entitlement (in particular, the passing flows) during the year. This information is also typically contained in the responsible authority's annual report as a measure of compliance with all provisions of the bulk entitlement.

Stream flow management plans: planned unregulated surface water

Environmental water determination and commitment

Stream flow management plans (SFMP) prescribe how water will be shared between users and the environment in an equitable manner to ensure the long-term sustainability of the resource. Broadly, the objectives of SFMPs are to determine water users' reasonable access to water through a permissible annual volume (PAV), while preserving environmental flows and protecting environmental values. Specific objectives are detailed in the second schedule of each of the SFMPs.

The SFMPs currently apply to the following eight water supply protection areas within the Yarra River catchment and are managed by Melbourne Water:

The SFMPs outline the rules that licence holders must follow when abstracting water, including minimum passing flows that must be maintained to meet environmental flow targets.

Environmental water outcomes

In accordance with Section 32C of the Water Act, Melbourne Water (which is responsible for administering and enforcing the SFMP) must submit to the Victorian Minister for Water a report detailing its compliance with the SFMP during the 2012–13 year.

Compliance with maintaining environmental flows was reported for all SFMPs in the 2012–13 year.

For more information, these reports can be found on the Melbourne Water website