As a result of the recent high rainfalls and subsequent flooding Melbourne Water is working with emergency services and other relevant agencies to review the impacts to our waterways and assets. 

For flood or storm emergency assistance, contact the VIC SES on 132 500 and for life threatening emergencies call 000. 

You can access current emergency information by calling the VicEmergency Hotline on 1800 226 226 or sign up to receive regular updates regarding flooding via the emergency.vic.gov.au website and app.

If you plan to construct a crossing over our drain or waterway or to make any changes to an existing crossing, you must get our approval.

A crossing is any bridge or culvert passing over a creek, river, stream, or formed channel on our land.

This is how we protect our waterways and drainage assets and ensure any proposed work meets our standard requirements.

Any works undertaken without Melbourne Water approval will be considered illegal under the Water Act.

Application process

Your plans will need to meet our standard guidelines - the technical and design requirements for building waterway/drain crossings.

Approvals from other authorities

We may need evidence of approvals from other authorities or private owners who may be affected by your works before we provide approval.

Check that you comply with other laws that may affect your development, such as Special Building Overlay and Land Subject to Inundation Overlay.

Planning permit

You should ask your local council if you need a planning permit before construction.

Approval process

We consider various types of crossings depending on how they will be used and the waterway or drain characteristics.

We assess:

  • environmental impacts
  • impact on flood levels to surrounding properties
  • maintenance access
  • safety and risk criteria

Private crossings will require you to enter into a Bridge or Culvert Agreement with us that defines liability and ongoing maintenance. Agreements will be delivered electronically via a highly secure, encrypted online platform. This will enable faster execution of agreements and eliminates the need paper agreements. You may be required to respond with a written acceptance to comply with our conditions.

Concept review

When you submit your conceptual plans we will review them and respond with any requirements.

Documentation that you will need to supply includes:

  • a cover letter outlining the proposed works
  • measurements of the cross section or creek profile
  • location of underside of bridge to Australian Height Datum
  • exact location of works (include Melways reference if known)
  • location of abutments/piers in regard to top of bank
  • photos of the proposed site
  • extent of proposed rock work
  • conceptual design (rough sketch)
  • any existing crossing
  • preliminary environmental assessment

Formal design approval

Your formal application must include a cover letter detailing the proposed works and the following support documents:

  • detailed design plans of proposed work
  • location of bridge abutments in relation to top of bank
  • height of bridge to Australian Height Datum
  • survey plans indicating bank cross section/profiles
  • hydraulic assessment
  • environmental assessment
  • any other requirements we requested at the concept planning stage

If we approve your crossing plans, we will send you a letter outlining any specific conditions you must meet as part of our approval. We may also request copies of approvals from other agencies involved in the approval process.

You must respond in writing to accept our conditions, and pay the relevant fees.

Before you start work, you'll need to enter into a formal agreement with us.


Prior to the commencement of works on Melbourne Water’s asset, the contractor must contact Melbourne Water’s Asset Services Team on (03) 9679 6614 for approval/permits on a live asset(s). Penalties apply for unauthorised works.

All contractors who carry out works on live assets are required to have a Permit to work.

Inspections will be required at different stages of the works (letter of approval will confirm this requirement).

For inspection of work, please refer to the following link:

Inspection of work


We are currently receiving a high volume of applications due to growth in demand for our services, which has unfortunately created significant delays. We acknowledge your patience and will make every effort to process your applications as soon as we can. View our current processing times.


Fees differ depending on the proposed work. We will advise you of the amount once we assess your application. 

Fees and security for construction, works and connections

Please note this application fee is non-refundable.


Make sure any specifications comply with our requirements for waterway crossings:

Waterway crossings guidelines 

Contact us

If you need any help to complete this application, contact us 131 722

Last updated:
21 September 2021