The Victorian Government has introduced new guidelines that will allow ‘sensible development’ in potable water catchment areas.


State Water Minister, Peter Walsh, said the new guidelines will allow for a more practical approach to development in catchment areas, allowing land owners to build properties in areas where there is certainty that water quality will be protected.


“These new development guidelines are good news for landowners, regional communities and local councils because it provides clarity and flexibility in the development of catchment areas,” Mr Walsh said.


Previous laws introduced in 2009 forbade certain development in areas in the immediate vicinity of a catchment.


“The 2009 guidelines were too restrictive and left many regional communities with large areas of land that couldn’t have houses built on them. This was understandably frustrating for individual landowners as well,” Mr Walsh said.


Mr Walsh said the new guidelines will provide a more flexible approach to development of these areas, and will allow a case-by-case approach to the development of the area.


Under the guideline, local councils will be obliged to ensure that planned development will not compromise water quality of a catchment or reservoir.


To support the new guidelines Mr Walsh also announced funding for a domestic wastewater management pilot project for the Mansfield Shire Council.


“A Domestic Wastewater Management Plan is considered an acceptable basis for relaxing the guideline relating to dwelling density,” Mr Walsh said.


The $50,000 will support a pilot model domestic wastewater management plan that aims to reduce environmental and health risks associated with on-site domestic wastewater.


The move has been welcomed by the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV), but has also urged a more collaborative approach between State and local governments.


“While the quality of drinking water remains paramount, competing objectives in six related pieces of legislation and a further six codes, guidelines and standards have created confusion about the management of open potable water supply catchments,” MAV’s President Cr Bill McArthur said.