Drainage: who is responsible?

As a landowner, it is your responsibility to regularly maintain and manage drainage on your property. This helps improve productivity when farming and protect the health of waterways.

There are a number of organisations that give advice on drainage, depending on where your property is located. If your property is within town boundaries, please contact your local council.

If your property is within the Macalister Irrigation District, contact Southern Rural Water.

We can give advice on rural drainage, that is on properties outside town boundaries.

For advice on Drainage Management Plans contact local government or see the Victorian Government’s Rural Drainage Strategy. Or review the Dryland Rural Drainage Resource Kit for Landholders.

The frequency and magnitude of flood, fire and drought is projected to increase and rising sea levels and storm surge are anticipated.

Landowner and Landholder Responsibilities

When planning to undertake works on drains on your property remember not to negatively impact your neighbour’s property by changing the flow or quality of water onto their land or into drains and waterways.  Talk to your neighbour while you are doing your planning.

Contact us for a Works on Waterways Permit or for help in reviewing earthworks that may change the discharge point or rate of flow of water across a property boundary.

A Works on Waterways Permit is required for any works on or within 30 metres of a designated waterway.  Designated waterways on your property can be found on the Map Share Vic website and using the zoom function to focus on your property.

Other Relevant Authorities

Local government is responsible for drainage within urban areas.

Highways and major roads are VicRoads responsibility.

Other Relevant Authorities

Southern Rural Water can help with any rural drainage issues within the Macalister Irrigation District. They are also responsible for licensing farm dams.

Environment Protection Authority EPA

Contact the EPA for problems with dairy effluent or other pollution problems.

Who does what in water in 2023?

You may be interested in viewing the Who Does What in Water publication which gives an overview of different roles and responsibilities in this area.

Drainage tips

The following tips will increase the health of local waterways, help to improve productivity when farming, and reduce drainage issues.

  • Develop a farm plan. This ensures all on farm drainage and development needs are met.
  • Fence along both sides of farm drains. This reduces erosion into the drain and improves water quality.
  • Plant different natives along at least one side of the drain. This improves biodiversity and reduces algal and weed growth through shading.
  • Construct wide and shallow drains. This reduces the risk of erosion and allows for better access and maintenance.
  • Do maintenance in dry periods.
  • Use biodegradable herbicides and spray when the drain is mostly dry.
  • Use carefully managed crash grazing as part of the maintenance strategy.

Resolving drainage problems

The best problem-solving is prevention.

  • Talk to your neighbour about your plans and seek to ensure their cooperation.
  • Be informed about what you’re planning.  Breaches of law and planning schemes are more likely to occur through lack of information.  Contact us, your local council or SRW.
  • Consider a Drainage Management Plan as it may guide your planning and help come up with cooperative solutions.
  • If you have done everything possible to ensure that disagreement was averted but a dispute has arisen, Mediation may help. Contact the Dispute Settlement Centre on 5116 5761.
  • As a last resort, legal proceedings may be required.  Please seek professional assistance.