The Victorian government has introduced legislation to improve transparency and compliance, to make sure the state's irrigation water is being used fairly and in line with the rules.
Water Minister Lisa Neville introduced the Water and Catchment Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 into the Victorian Parliament this week.
The legislation delivers on calls from irrigators for greater transparency on water ownership and trading.
It includes allowing the names of the largest water owners to be published on the Victorian water register.
"After extensive consultation, we are delivering improved transparency in our water markets to support Victorian irrigators and improve confidence in the market," Ms Neville said.
"This legislation will further strengthen compliance in line with our zero tolerance policy for water theft."
She said the bill would further strengthen deterrents to water theft, including allowing water to be deducted from using more than their allocation and placing more onus on directors of corporations who use water to follow the rules.
The legislation would also put in place a better framework for managing the increasing challenges of delivering water in the River Murray to irrigators and the environment.
With increased demand for water in the lower Murray region, reduced capacity of Barmah Choke, the impacts of climate change and changes associated with the Murray Darling Basin Plan - the risk of delivery shortfall was increasing.
The legislation would allow for the introduction of a cap-and-trade system for any new water extraction share for river diverters within declared areas like the lower Murray.
This would protect the entitlements of existing users.
In the case of a shortfall, it would allow for limits on daily water take to ensure entitlement holders get a fair share of available water.
The legislation also formalises the integration of Western Water and City West Water into the Greater Western Water Corporation which took practical effect in June -- and will also enable the integration of Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority into Melbourne Water from January 1 2022.
The bill will also include replacing the Victorian Catchment Management Council with independent, regionally-based, advisory committees.
For more information on Water for Victoria go to https://www.water.vic.gov.au/water-for-victoria