Stream flow management

​We produce stream flow management plans, local management rules and a Drought Response Plan to document the ways in which water will be managed to ensure it is shared fairly between diverters and the environment.

​Stream flow management plans

These plans are prepared for Water Supply Protection Areas (WSPA) declared by the Minister for Water in catchments where the water supply is considered under stress. They are developed by an advisory committee that includes Melbourne Water, local landholders, local diverters and relevant agencies, and are approved by the government and reviewed every five years.

The plans specify:

  • environmental flows

  • licence conditions to protect the environment or other water users

  • total volume of water that can be diverted each year

  • trading rules for transferring water entitlements into, and within, a catchment.

Annual reports for stream flow management plans

Melbourne Water is responsible for managing approximately 1900 surface water diverters in the Yarra catchment, parts of the lower Maribyrnong River and some creeks in western catchments.

We are obliged under the Water Act 1989 (the Act) to develop Stream Flow Management Plans for certain waterways that are considered ecologically important and stressed over summer months. Seven waterways in Melbourne Water’s management district are classified as such.

Section 32C of the Act requires Melbourne Water to prepare an annual report for approved Stream Flow Management Plans. View the consolidated annual report, including data for each catchment:

Local management rules and plans

Local management rules and plans are created for areas with a lower level of demand than Water Supply Protection Area catchments. They set the rules to share water within the relevant sub-catchments.

​Drought response water sharing plan

During drought or low flow conditions, licenced diverters’ access to water may be restricted or banned to protect the environment. Our Drought Response Plan/Water Sharing Plan is active at all times, and specifies how water is shared when there is not enough to meet all users’ needs.

It states river flow levels which trigger restrictions or bans, and how these are applied to different licence types. These trigger points have been developed together with stream flow management plans or local management rules/plans.

The plan is in two parts to be read in conjunction with each other:

Part A: Drought Response Plan: A Water Sharing Plan for Licenced Water Users 2016. This  is the main document relevant for all diverters. 

Part B: Drought Response Plan: Catchment specific Water Sharing Plans which detail specific rules for each catchment. Only one will be relevant for each diversion licence.

Diversions water outlook for Melbourne

Each year, we produce a water outlook for entitlement holders to help them plan for their watering needs. The outlook provides information on water resources availability, including the current position and a forward outlook for the coming season under a range of plausible climatic scenarios.

Download the outlook:


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