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’.