Water is a precious and limited resource. It is critical to our economy, environment, and communities. This is why water needs to be managed fairly for all water users.

In Victoria there is a zero-tolerance approach to water theft. This means that anytime an allocation account (ABA) is negative, your rural water corporation will not hesitate to fine or prosecute for serious cases if action is not swiftly undertaken to address the balance.

Rural water corporations are conducting more inspections to detect water theft, including checking customers whose usage exceeded their entitlement in the previous irrigation season. In 2022/23, rural water corporations will increasingly target higher risk areas, particularly where there are high volumes of trades and a history of non-compliance.

Water users should plan ahead for 2022/23 needs, to ensure their ABA balance remains positive throughout the year. Water users having difficulties meeting their water needs should contact their rural water corporation immediately.

Water theft is an offence under the Water Act 1989, and any non-compliance means there is less water for delivery in the system.

Under the Water Act 1989, rural water corporations are responsible for the compliance and enforcement of rules and legislative requirements surrounding the take and use of water and construction of works. The Water Act 1989 was amended in October 2019 to provide for greater deterrence against water theft by strengthening penalties and broadening enforcement tools for water corporations including penalty infringement notices (fines), suspension of licences and prosecution.

If you wish to report an alleged offence or breach, please contact your rural water corporation.

For more information on Victoria’s Water Compliance and Enforcement Approach, please: