|Description of this AgencyDescription of this Agency|
The Establishment: Background
The Department of Water Resources was established under the Water (Central Management Restructuring) Act 1984 as the central management agency for the State's water resources. Its establishment followed a review of Victoria's non-metropolitan water industry by the Public Bodies Review Committee in 1980-1982 (see 2 April 1980 reference from Parliament in Victoria Government Gazette of 20 May 1981, No.42, p.1595, and the Committee's Reports to Parliament, Nos. 1-8, in particular Eighth Report, Future Structures for Water Management, Vol 3, Final Report: The Central and Regional Management of the Water Industry). The objective of the review was to recommend structures and procedures that would enable more efficient, effective and economic utilisation of water resources. It addressed in particular the geographical and functional fragmentation of the water industry and the need to develop an integrated system of water management.
Traditionally water resource management in Victoria had been divided between authorities responsible for the Melbourne and Metropolitan area on the one hand and rural Victoria on the other. The 1975 Act establishing a Ministry of Water Resources and Water Supply (abolished by the 1984 Act) represented an attempt to set up a central coordinating body, but the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission (VA 723) and the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works (VA 1007) continued to operate much as before with no changes in their powers, responsibilities or functions. With the establishment of the Department of Water Resources, for the first time there was a central management agency with statewide responsibilities for policy development, planning and coordination for the water industry.
Date of Establishment
The Department came into being on 1 July 1984 (Governor-in-Council Order of 19 June 1984 amending Schedule Two of the Public Service Act 1974 - Victoria Government Gazette No.67, 20 June 1984, p.2025).
The Department's principle responsibility is concerned with the provision of advice to the Minister on matters relevant to the Water Portfolio and its statutory functions enable it to play a central policy, planning and coordinating role. The Water (Central Management Restructuring) Act 1984 set down the major objective of the Department as provision of policy advice to the Minister to ensure:
that the water resources of the State are managed in ways which are most beneficial to the people of Victoria
that water services are provided to local communities to the extent and to standards appropriate to the needs of those communities
that there is secured in the water sector a working environment which is safe and satisfying
that the management of water resources and the provision of water services are undertaken in a socially and environmentally responsible manner and in consultation with the appropriate authorities.
Director-General of Water Resources
The Act also establishes the Director-General of Water Resources as a corporate body. The first Director-General was Dr. John Paterson.
The functions of the Department as specified in an Order-in-Council of 26 June 1984 (Victoria Government Gazette No.69, 27 June 1984, p.2127) are:
To provide advice to the Minister on - the management, development and use of the water resource of the State; and the provision of water services to the people of Victoria;
To review and develop policy options, plans and programs for the water sector in consultation with operating agencies where appropriate, to co-ordinate policy development within the industry, and to advise the Minister on industry plans, programs and institutional arrangements;
To ensure the development of a comprehensive data base for the Victorian water sector relating to water resources and water-related matters, and financial, physical, and manpower resources, and to analyse and monitor the data base in the development of policies, plans and programs;
To develop guidelines and planning parameters, to assist operating agencies in the water industry to develop plans and programs and to provide advice to agencies;
To analyse financial programs and budgets prepared by various operating agencies in the water industry, to identify associated policy issues and to provide advice to the Minister on all aspects of such programs and budgets prior to their consideration and approval by Government;
To monitor and review the performance of operating agencies against approved budgets, programs and objectives, and to assist the Minister in evaluating and reporting on industry performance;
To provide management and technical support and to disseminate information to the various bodies in the water industry;
To develop public education programs to promote community awareness of the need for more efficient and effective management of the State's water resources; and
To undertake water services and related functions as may be assigned by legislation, directed by the Minister or delegated to the Department by other public authorities.
Abolition of Department
In April 1990 all the functions and responsibilities of the Department were transferred to the newly established Department of Conservation and Environment (VA 3004).
Location of Records
No records have been transferred to the Public Record Office.