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Groundwater use in Gippsland

Groundwater use in Gippsland

Agribusiness and industry are the largest user groups across the region. Users are concentrated in the ‘best’ areas – that is the areas with low salinity (what is groundwater salinity?) and high yield (what is groundwater yield?). Within this region approximately 50% of licensed entitlements remain unused. This provides the potential for new or existing users to access water in areas where no new allocations are available through trading unused entitlements. D&S use is not licensed, however you need a licence to construct a bore and you need to test the water quality to make sure it is suitable for your purpose.

Who uses groundwater in the region?

Agribusiness users hold most of the groundwater entitlements (licences) by volume followed by industrial users. While there is a high number of D&S users (non-licensed), they generally access very small volumes so they account for a small proportion of potential use overall.

Proportion of allocation by user group

  Agribusiness Industrial Urban D&S
Upper 92% <1% 1% 7%
Middle 72% 17% 7% 4%
Lower & basement 49% 47% 2% 2%

This table shows the volume of groundwater allocated to different user groups across the region. This includes the total volume of licensed entitlements as well as an estimate of potential non-licensed use by D&S users.

How much groundwater is actually used and where?

Only about half of licensed entitlements is actually used within this region. Unused entitlements may be traded either temporarily or permanently to other users who are seeking additional water or a new water source.

Actual use by local area

   GMU Licensed volume (ML) 2013/14 Metered use (ML)  2013/14
Upper Denison  18501.4  5884.0
  Orbost  1216.5  257.4
  Tarwin  38.2  21.0
  Wa De Lock  29285.7  5546.5
  Wy Yung  7462  765.1
  Non-GMU  10857.9  N/A
Middle Giffard  5688.5  1436.0
  Rosedale  22372.0  5745.6
  Sale  21217.7  10036.9
  Non GMU  4829.4  N/A
Lower Leongatha  1840.7  208.9
  Moe  3990.5  797.3
  Stratford  27645.0  21.3
  Yarram  25688.8  10076.5
  Non GMU  2723.9  N/A

This table shows the volume of groundwater that can be taken under entitlements (licences) in each area and the amount of groundwater that was actually used during 2013/14.  This is based on metered data collected by SRW.

Domestic and stock use

The estimated groundwater use from D&S bores is estimated total of 5,287ML D&S use is not licensed or metered so we do not know exactly how much water is used from these bores.  In Gippsland we estimate that there are 4,067 bores drilled since which use on average 1.3ML/yr. 

What is the potential for accessing groundwater?

Licensed use

There is some potential for new licence allocations in non-GMU areas. In all other areas entitlements are fully allocated and can only be obtained through trading unused entitlements. As can be seen in the section above there is a significant volume of unused entitlements across the region.

Unlicensed use (D&S users)

You do not need a licence for D&S use, however you must apply for a licence to construct a bore (visit our Get a licence page for more information). You also need to make sure that yield is adequate and that water quality is suitable for your purpose (visit our What is groundwater salinity page for more information).

Is there potential for any new entitlements in the future?

New aquifer-based planning is under way and limited entitlements may be available in some aquifers or GMUs once this is complete. For example in the large regional aquifers (such as the Latrobe Group) there may be potential for new allocations in the future. Any significant increase in activation of unused entitlements may require additional management in specific GMUs to ensure sustainable use.

How do I apply for a new licence or to trade?  


A rigorous process applies for all applications for new entitlements and to trade existing entitlements. All applications are assessed on merit and Southern Rural Water must be satisfied that the overall sustainability of the aquifers is protected and that the impact on other users, including the environment, is acceptable. Find out more or apply for a licence visit our Get a licence page.

Learn the basics

To find out about different groundwater users visit our Who uses groundwater page.

To find out how groundwater and licences are managed visit our How is groundwater managed page.

Page last updated27th May 2015
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