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

​Notice of proposed amendment to Olinda Creek Stream Flow Management Plan 2017

Stream Flow Management Plans (SFMPs) are used to better manage the surface water resources in catchments where the water supply is considered under stress. These water stressed catchments are declared by the Minister for Water and are known as Water Supply Protection Areas (WSPAs). The SFMPs are developed by a Ministerially appointed consultative committee to ensure water is managed and shared fairly between diverters and the environment. They are approved by the Minister and reviewed every five years. Melbourne Water has the responsibility for resourcing and supporting the operation of the Committee.

Following the declaration of the Olinda Creek WSPA in 2002, a SFMP was developed in 2007. A review of the 2007 Olinda Creek SFMP was undertaken in 2013 which recommended amendments be made. 

In November 2016, the Minister for Water appointed the Olinda Creek Stream Flow Management Plan Amendment Consultative Committee to advise the Minister on amendment of the SFMP. The Committee has prepared proposed amendments and is now seeking public feedback on them. Any comments will be considered by the Committee and forwarded to the Minister for her consideration. Comments received may be made publically available.


We welcome any comments you may have on the proposed amendments.

Comments can be submitted to [email protected] until Friday 27 July 2018.

Annual reports of 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.

Melbourne Water is obliged under the Water Act 1989 (the Act) to develop Stream Flow Management Plans (SFMP) 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. The following consolidated report and links to supportive information and annual data for each specific catchment is provided.

Local management rules and plans

Local management rules/plans are created for areas that have a level of demand lower 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 Water

Each year Melbourne Water will produce an annual water outlook providing information on the current water resource position and a forward outlook for water resources over the coming season under a range of plausible climatic scenarios. The purpose of the outlook is to try and improve the provision of water resources availability information to all water entitlement holders so that they may plan for their watering needs accordingly.

Last updated:
30 October 2018