River pump licencing

You need a licence to take water from the river for any purpose.

A river pump licence (works licence) is a licence to construct, operate, alter, decommission or remove a pump which takes water from the river. These licences are subject to conditions set by the Water Minister and specified on the licence which is valid for five years.  River pump (works) licences are inspected and renewed on expiry if they meet the appropriate conditions. 

The conditions of a works licence include: 

  •  the type and  size of pump that is authorised to be used 
  • the conditions on which the pumps can be operated 
  • the volumes of water authorised to be taken during ordinary and rationing periods (extraction share). 

An extraction share is a licence holders share of the total amount of water that can be taken from rivers at a certain point over a given period of time.  Extraction shares are used to restrict the amount of water taken from the river in times of high demand. 

To be issued a river pump licence (works license), you also need to have an available Water Allocation and the authority to apply water to your land (surface water licencing). 

Place of Take approvals 

Victoria’s new ‘place of take approvals’ framework is now in effect, bringing more certainty and flexibility for water users in declared Broken, Bullarook, Campaspe, Goulburn, Loddon, Murray, Ovens, Thomson-Macalister and Werribee systems.

These changes have been introduced in response to increasing delivery risks in the Murray River system downstream of Barmah, where the ‘Barmah Choke’ or ‘narrows’ is reducing in capacity and changing demands for water are making it harder for river operators to deliver water where and when people need it. The new framework ensures clear arrangements are in place for managing delivery risks for all declared systems should they occur in the future.

The changes make extraction share – the river diverters’ right to a share of water available in a shortfall – an enduring right. In systems with the highest shortfall risk – the Murray downstream of Barmah and the Ovens-King system, extraction share volumes have been capped to protect existing rights.

Existing water users with approval to take water have been issued ‘general place of take approvals’ on Monday 20 November 2023 that maintains their existing rights to take and use water under the new framework.

Any new licences issued from Monday 20 November 2023 will be issued a General Place of Take (GPT) approval with zero extraction share. A GPT approval authorises the ABA holder to take water from a service point and provides the right to take a share of river water during announced river restrictions.

You cannot take river water during restrictions if the extraction share has a zero rate. Non-compliance with your extraction share during a rationing event is an offence under the Water Act and significant penalties will apply.

There may be an ability to trade extraction share to your GPT. Please contact the Rural Services Team on 1800 808 830 (option 3) for more information.