Residential customers » Water quality » Catchment management

Catchment management

Managing and protecting our catchments is essential to maintaining the quality of our drinking water.

Most of our catchments are within national parks but some include pockets of private land.

What is a drinking water catchment?

A catchment is an area of land where rainfall collects in rivers and streams, or seeps into the soil to become groundwater. In the case of drinking water catchments this water may be stored in reservoirs or pumped from groundwater reserves.

We source water from 8 designated special water supply catchments:

  • Moorabool Special Water Supply Catchment Area 
  • Upper Barwon Special Water Supply Catchment Area
  • Pennyroyal, Goslings and Matthews Creek Special Water Supply Catchment Area
  • Barwon Downs Wellfield Intake Area
  • Gellibrand Special Water Supply Catchment Area
  • Barham River Special Water Supply Catchment Area
  • Lorne Special Water Supply Catchment Area
  • Painkalac Special Water Supply Catchment Area.



Protecting drinking water catchments

The quality of water from our catchments can vary depending on the type and level of activity within them.

Protecting our catchments is a crucial first barrier to contamination. Subsequent barriers include water storage, treatment and disinfection. This multiple barrier, catchment-to-tap approach ensures high quality, safe drinking water.

While most of our catchment area is within protected national parks, some is on private land. It is important that all activity within our catchments is monitored and managed to ensure water quality is protected.

Our strategies to protect water quality within catchments include:

  • preventing public access
  • planning and development controls
  • waterway protection and rehabilitation
  • fire management
  • prevention of soil erosion
  • community education
  • appropriate land management practices
  • restricting recreation activity.



Recreational activities

Some of our catchments and reservoirs are open to the public, and there are restrictions on the recreational activities that are permitted.

  Recreational areas


Some sites, particularly those within national parks, are primarily managed by Parks Victoria.

  Parks Victoria



Planning permit applications

Planning permit applications are usually administered by local councils. When development occurs within a water supply catchment, councils must forward certain planning permit applications to Barwon Water for comment.

We assess planning applications for possible risks to catchment water quality and provide advice to council based on our assessment.


Guidance note

If you are preparing a planning permit application, we have developed a guidance note. This document is designed to ensure you provide all the necessary information to us and to minimise processing delays.

  Guidance note: catchment planning permit assessment (PDF 1.3 MB)



Protecting catchments on private land

If you live or work in a catchment, you can help by controlling the hazards that pose a risk to water quality. This includes:

  • improving waterway frontages
  • preventing stock access to waterways
  • maintaining onsite wastewater treatment systems
  • preventing soil erosion
  • appropriate use of fertilisers, weed sprays, etc.

For more information on landholders' responsibilities in water supply catchments, please refer to the Department of Health website.

  Department of Health: Drinking water

  Department of Health: Protecting our drinking water