About diversion licences

A diversion licence is needed to take water from a waterway or dam for commercial or irrigation uses. In some instances a licence may also be required for domestic and stock use. 

Under the Water Act 1989, we are responsible for issuing licences within the Yarra River catchment, lower Maribyrnong River and some Western tributaries.

The information below will help you find out if you need a licence, what conditions they specify, and how you can obtain one. 

Do I need a licence?

In nearly all cases you will need a licence if you wish to divert water for commercial or irrigation purposes. You may also need a licence to divert water for domestic and stock use from a waterway.

There are some exceptions, so please contact us to find out if a licence is needed for your particular circumstances.

What does a licence allow me to do?

A diversion licence allows you to take and use a certain amount of water from a waterway or dam, for a specific purpose. The conditions vary depending on the waterway concerned as well as the type of licence.

Licences also contain conditions such as:

  • maximum extraction rates
  • specific periods when water can be diverted
  • minimum stream flows needed before water can be diverted
  • the location where water can be taken from and where it can be used

Our diversion licences are issued for a three-year period, and will generally be renewed upon application and payment of annual fees.

Additional conditions – Drought response plan

In addition to your other licence conditions, you must check your waterway’s ban or restriction status before taking any water. Our Drought Response Plan sets out the restrictions and bans that may apply in different catchments during low river flows to protect both the environment and ensure equitable access to water for all users.

Winter-fill licences

Some licences are limited to higher flow periods when they can take water.  Winter-fill diversion licences specify the times when water can be pumped, usually into a dam for later use. This is called the ‘winter fill period’, and is usually the high flow period between July and October.  Some variations occur so check with Melbourne Water what applies to your catchment.

How do I apply for a licence?

Most catchments in Victoria are already fully allocated.  If you need a licence or additional water for your existing licence, you must obtain this extra amount by trading with an existing diversion licence holder.

Limitations apply on how water can be moved around between different catchments.  If considering a trade you should contact Melbourne Water for further advice and direction.  Once you have found someone to trade with, you must apply to us to have the water allocation assessed and transferred to you. You can use this water once we provide written notice that the transfer is approved.

Further information on water trading and application forms are available:

Calculating volume requirements

When calculating how much water you need each year, you should consider factors such as:

  • area of land needing irrigation
  • method of irrigation
  • soil type
  • crop type.

The Department of Agrigculture can provide advice on calculating irrigation water use:

Contact us



Copyright Melbourne Water