Victorian guideline for irrigation with recycled water

RMCG worked with the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Victoria to develop a guideline that supports the design and management of recycled water irrigation schemes.

Irrigation has become a vital component of Victoria’s recycled water management. The reuse of recycled water via irrigation has grown steadily in the last two decades and will continue to be an important response to environmental and water resource management in Victoria for many years to come.

RMCG’s recycled water experts worked collaboratively with the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Victoria and the Victorian Government to review and remake Publication 168 – Victorian guideline for irrigation with recycled water.

Originally published in 1983 and revised in 1991, this latest version of the guidance has been developed in consultation with water corporations, industry, DELWP, Department of Health, Agriculture Victoria, Traditional Owners and various EPA subject matter experts.

During this project, we used our combined technical and stakeholder engagement skills to ensure development of a contemporary, accessible and relevant guideline that supports sustainable recycled water irrigation in Victoria.

About the guideline

The guideline provides information to support designers and operators of irrigation systems using recycled water, including water corporations, industries that produce recycled water for irrigation and irrigation managers. It is also a key resource for regulatory decision makers evaluating and approving recycled water irrigation schemes, and for end users.

The guideline does not prescribe performance objectives, but rather, it articulates risks that need to be identified and managed. Appropriate controls should be considered to minimise the risks of harm to the environment – including the crops being irrigated – and to human and animal health, so far as reasonably practicable.

By encouraging the use of recycled water for irrigation, the guideline aims to support the reduction in demand on potable water and other fresh water sources.

Irrigation using recycled water has become more prominent in Victoria.

Benefits of irrigation with recycled water

There are a range of benefits that can be achieved through the design and implementation of a sustainable recycled water irrigation scheme. These include:

  • Enhanced water security given the reliability of recycled water supply compared with the variability associated with other irrigation water sources
  • Reduced demand on Victoria’s drinking water supplies
  • Reduced diversion of water from watercourses and groundwater
  • Potential treatment and disposal cost savings by turning a waste into a resource with economic or social benefits
  • Reduced wastewater discharges to surface waters
  • Improved public open spaces due to the watering of sporting grounds and other critical public assets (especially during periods of water restrictions)
  • Utilisation of the nutrients contained within the recycled water and the potential for a reduction in the use of finite fertiliser resources.

Get in touch with us

For more information, see our experience in recycled water management and irrigation design and management, or contact RMCG Principal Matt Shanahan at or 0408 476 140.


Matt Shanahan

Matt Shanahan


B.Tech. (Env.)

Matt has been working in the water/irrigation industry for the past 15 years, having spent the last 12 years with RMCG consulting to a range of private and government clients.  Matt has worked extensively in the field of recycled water and organics management, having prepared master plans, land capability assessments, irrigation management plans and environmental management plans for a range of clients.  He is also experienced in the development of works approval applications and undertaking technical assessments involving the management of soils, nutrients and salinity/sodicity.

Duncan Wallis

Duncan Wallis


BEng (Ag), MEng (Env), CPEng.

Duncan is a Chartered Engineer with 25 years’ experience in environmental, irrigation, agricultural, drinking water, domestic wastewater, sewerage, trade waste, recycled water and catchment management engineering in the public and private sectors.

He specialises in water related infrastructure planning and investigations and uses skills and tools such as GIS mapping, spatial data analysis and network analysis to develop practical solutions to complex problems and uses the ‘power’ of spatial data analysis to convey information effectively.

He can communicate technical concepts in non-technical forums and has experience consulting and working with farmers and landholders, government departments and wider community on route planning for pipelines and shared trails including rail trails. He has recently prepared successful EPA works approval applications for major food processing companies and expert witness statements in agricultural settings.

Duncan is currently involved in Australian Water and Wastewater’s mentor program and reviews articles for their Water Journal. He previously helped run the Institute of Engineers’ EngQuest regional program for students.

Anna Kelliher

Anna Kelliher

Managing Principal

BA, BE (Hons), GAICD

Anna is an environmental engineer with 20 years’ experience in water and catchment management. She specialises in recycled water planning, irrigation modernisation, land capability assessment, environmental risk assessment and catchment condition reporting. Anna has experience working with industry, government, farmers and the community, and has developed sound teamwork, communication and project management skills.

Emily Tee

Emily Tee

Senior Consultant

B.Ag.Sci., Grad.Dip.App.Sci. (Hort), Dip.Bus.

Emily is a multi-skilled professional with experience in design, delivery and review of programs and projects in the environmental and agricultural sectors. She combines excellent strategic thinking skills with a proven ability to problem-solve and effectively communicate with colleagues and stakeholders. Emily has particular skills in relationship building and collaboration with individuals, teams and industry groups to lead and implement change and deliver on outcomes.

Rob Rendell

Rob Rendell

Senior Fellow

B.Eng. (Ag), CPAg., GAICD

Rob has more than 40 years’ experience in irrigation, groundwater drainage, salinity management, project management, extension, reclaimed water re-use, practical irrigation farming and farm management, agricultural industry benchmarking and sustainability indicators.  Rob’s wide range of experience from the practical to the technical/managerial and also to strategy and policy, gives him ability to contribute at many levels. He is recognised as a leader in the water and irrigated agriculture sector.