Waterways and Drainage Charge

Frequently Asked Questions


1. What does the Waterways and Drainage Charge pay for?

Melbourne Water is the caretaker of river health throughout the Port Phillip and Westernport region.
They are responsible for managing over 8,400 kilometres of rivers and creeks, floodplains and the regional drainage system.
A key source of funds for this work is the Waterways and Drainage Charge, which is collected by Central Highlands Water on Melbourne Water’s behalf from some customers in the Central Highlands Region.
Everyone benefits either directly or indirectly from healthy waterways and a safe, reliable drainage system.


2. How much is the Waterways and Drainage Charge?

The waterways and drainage charge for 2019 - 2020 is $56.08.

What about rural areas?

The rural Waterways Charge is billed to customers living within the Waterways Management District, but outside the current Urban Growth Boundary.
Rural areas mostly benefit from our waterway services and some aspects of flood protection. Because of this, a lower charge is billed to rural customers to reflect the lower level of drainage and flood protection services compared to urban customers.


3. Why is the Waterways and Drainage Charge going up?

The increases will ensure Melbourne Water can continue to deliver a high level of service in the protection and improvement of waterway health, well-managed drainage networks and flood protection and mitigation. It also accounts for the projected impacts of population growth and associated increases in demand, particularly in Melbourne’s growth areas.


4. I don’t receive any benefit to my property. Why should I pay?

The works that we do provide broad benefits to waterways across the catchment. Approximately 1.9 million property owners are levied the Waterways and Drainage Charge.
Spreading the costs across the whole region is the fairest possible approach as everyone benefits from healthy waterways and a safe and reliable drainage system.
Works are prioritised on a whole-of-region approach for the greater good of the region. Works delivered up stream will deliver positive outcomes to river health in other places.


5. I have a water/septic tank. Why should I pay?

The Waterways and Drainage Charge is not related to water and sewerage charges. The charge is a separate charge collected by Central Highlands Water on Melbourne Water’s behalf.


6. Why do I have to pay?

The Waterways and Drainage Charge has existed since the 1920s and is now paid by over 1.9 million people within our Waterway Management District boundary.
Every Melburnian benefits from a well-managed drainage network and healthy waterways. The Waterways and Drainage Charge is the fairest way of funding these services and is approved by the independent pricing regulator – the Essential Services Commission.


7. What’s my legislative requirement?

Section 259 of the Water Act 1989 (Part 13) permits Melbourne Water to levy waterways and drainage charges on properties within its “Waterway Management District”.
All properties deemed rateable under the meaning of the Local Government Act 1989 are liable for the Waterways and Drainage Charge. So, if you pay council rates, the charge will apply.
Water Act 1989, Section 259, parts 9 and 10 state;
(9) An Authority may in respect of a property, separately impose fees under a tariff or development tariff in respect of each separate occupancy on that Property.
(10) In determining what constitutes a separate occupancy, the Authority must use the relevant principles set out in the Valuation of Land Act 1960.
NB A separate occupancy is a habitable dwelling, either occupied or vacant, on each council rated property.