Planning a new irrigation development in the Goulburn Murray Water Region?

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All new irrigation developments in Victoria must have a licence from the local water authority whether the water is from a dam, natural waterway, channel, or groundwater bore. The licence applies to the area of land to be irrigated and specifies how much water can be used each year. There are several different types of licence depending on the water source.

In the Goulburn Murray Water Region (see map below) new irrigation developments are assessed under the Northern Victoria Irrigation Development Guidelines (NVIDG). The NVIDG outline the planning and licensing requirements for irrigation developments and the assessments needed for water-use licence (WUL), works licence (WL), and take and use licence (TUL) applications.

Goulburn Murray Water Region

Goulburn Murray Water Region

The main purpose of the NVIDG is to ensure that all new irrigation developments are best practice, sustainable and minimise negative impacts on the environment and adjoining landholders. The NVIDG help mitigate the risks associated with applying extra water to land and aim to ensure efficient water use through the application of high irrigation standards. They also ensure biodiversity and cultural heritage values of the site are considered.

The NVIDG apply to applications for, or variations to licences for irrigation purposes where the proposed irrigation development:

  • Will occur on land for which has never been irrigated.
  • Involves an increase in the annual use limit in an existing licence.
  • Involves an increase in the area to be irrigated in an existing licence.
  • Applications for a new works licence (Section 67), or renewal or variation of an existing works licence for irrigation purposes.

Applying for an Irrigation Licence in Northern Victoria

Applications for new or amended licences in the Goulburn Murray region are assessed under the Northern Victoria Irrigation Development Guidelines (2021). The guidelines and a series of fact sheets is available at Northern Victoria Irrigation Development Guidelines – GB CMA – Goulburn Broken CMA and  Northern Victorian Irrigation Development Guidelines | North Central Catchment Management Authority.

The fact sheets detail the assessments required by developers to ensure the risk of offsite impacts from the development are minimised and all the planning requirements are considered prior to construction. In Northern Victoria, Agriculture Victoria employs Irrigation Development Coordinators (IDC’s) to help developers understand the requirements of the guidelines and provide information on the level of assessments for each project.

Most developments will require an irrigation and drainage environmental plan which includes a soil survey and irrigation design. For sites with native vegetation or close to an area of environmental significance such as public land, wetland or waterway, some further assessment of the potential impacts may also be required. Developments with works proposed within or near a Cultural Heritage Sensitivity overlay may also require a Cultural Heritage assessment.

For further information on the guidelines and application details contact

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