As a landowner or manager, it is your responsibility to regularly maintain and manage drainage on your property. This helps improve farm productivity and protect the health of waterways. We are available to give advice on rural drainage.

There are a number of organisations that give advice on drainage, depending on where your property is. We can give advice on rural drainage, that is on properties outside town boundaries. If your property is within town boundaries, please contact your local council or in the Macalister Irrigation District, contact Southern Rural Water.

Landowner and manager responsibilities

Your responsibility as a landowner or manager is to make sure works you undertake, do not negatively impact a neighbour’s property by changing the flow or quality of water onto their land or into drains or waterways.

If you’re planning to undertake work on drains that cross your property, you need to contact the appropriate authority.

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.  Works on waterways permits are required for any works on or within 30 metres of a designated waterway.  Designated waterways can be identified on the Victorian Water Resources website and zooming into your property.

Other relevant authorities

Local council

Your local council is responsible for drainage within urban areas.

Highways and major roads are VicRoads responsibility.

Southern Rural Water (SRW)

SRW 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.

Drainage construction in Yarram.
Constructed drainage in the Macalister Irrigation District 2020

Drainage tips

These best practice tips will help reduce drainage problems, increase the health of local waterways and can help with farm productivity.

  • 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

This is a useful process to follow when trying to resolve a drainage dispute with a neighbour. Sometimes drainage disputes can sour relationships between neighbours. Follow these steps to resolve your drainage problem as quickly and amicably as possible

Step one

Talk to your neighbour. You may be able to resolve the problem together simply by explaining the problem.

Step two

Seek information. Contact us, your local council or Southern Rural Water to see if the drainage is legitimate or is a breach of law or planning scheme?

Step three

Develop cooperative solutions. After gaining a better understanding of the issue and advice from relevant staff, it is a good time to check back in with your neighbour to come up with some cooperative solutions.

If the issue cannot be resolved

If you cannot come to an agreement you have options of mediation or legal procedures


Contact the Dispute Settlement Centre in Morwell for help mediating the issue on 5116 5761.

Legal proceedings

Sometimes legal proceedings might be the most appropriate course of action. This should be a last resort and will require professional legal assistance.

Page updated April 2021.