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Groundwater use in Port Phillip & Western Port

Groundwater use in Port Phillip & Western Port

Agribusiness is the largest user group by far across the region. Groundwater 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 60 % of licensed entitlement remains unused.  This provides an opportunity for new or existing users to trade water in areas where new allocations are unavailable. D&S use is not licensed however you need a licence to construct a bore and you must check if the water is suitable for your purpose. Find out more about licenses on our Get a license page.

Who uses groundwater in the region?

Agribusiness users hold the highest volume of groundwater entitlements (licences) followed by urban and industrial users. While there are a high number of D&S users, they generally access very small volumes so they account for a smaller proportion of potential use.

Proportion of allocation by user group

  Agribusiness Urban & Industrial D&S (rural) D&S (urban)
Upper 70.4% 16.3% 11.1% 2.2%
Middle 77.5% 16.3% 5.6% 0.6%
Lower 59.0% 37.7% 3.0% 0.3%
Basement 57.8% 15.2% 26.0% 1.0%

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 used and where?

Only a small percentage of licensed groundwater entitlement is actually used. Unused entitlements may be traded either temporarily or permanently to other users who may be 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 Deutgam  5,082.1  801.8
  Nepean  6,109.5  3,003.9
  Merrimu  440.1  123.5
  Lancefield  1,377.5  622.8
  Non-GMU  7,951.7  N/A
Middle Frankston  1,671.4  121.6
  Koo Wee Rup  12,611.8  3,277.2
  Moorabbin  2,623.8  1,131.8
  Non GMU  3,579.6  N/A
Lower Cut Paw Paw  513.5  424.2
  Corinella  662.1  76
  Parwan  371  N/A
  Wandin Yallock  3,004.9  366.0
  Non GMU  10,007.8  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 total estimated groundwater use from D&S bores is of 6,305ML. D&S use is not licensed or metered so we do not know exactly how much water is used from these bores.  In the Port Phillip & Western Port region we estimate that there are 8408 bores drilled since 1980 which use on average 1.3ML/yr in rural areas and 0.2ML/yr in urban areas. 

What is the potential for accessing groundwater?

Licensed use

There is some potential for new licence allocations in the Corinella, Cut Paw Paw and Parwan GMUs as well as 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. To find out more on licenses visit our Get a license page. You also need to make sure that yield is adequate and that water quality is suitable for your purpose. Find out more on our What is groundwater salinity page.

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 Werribee Formation) 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 (notably Koo Wee Rup GMU) 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 here 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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