Business, industry and planning guidance

Dairy farms and water

The Victorian dairy industry is an important part of our economy. It is responsible for a third of all Australian milk supply, more than 80 per cent of Australia’s processed dairy products and 90 per cent of dairy exports. Victoria has about 5000 dairy farms and approximately a million dairy cows.

Ensuring a viable future for the Victorian dairy industry means producing milk in a sustainable, lawful and safe way. This page describes potential risks to the environment, EPA’s legislative context, guidelines for effluent management, and further information.

Environmental risks from dairy farms

Dairy farms produce both point source and non-point source pollution. The pollution from dairy farms that has the most significant impact on ground and surface water is nutrients from effluent.

Legislation affecting dairy farms

EPA is responsible for protecting surface and ground water quality in Victoria. The primary policy that outlines our responsibilities in protecting waterways from dairy farm nutrients is the State Environment Protection Policy (waters of Victoria). Other relevant policies are listed on our water related policies page.

Guidelines for the management of dairy effluent

Dairy effluent guidelines were developed and endorsed in 2008 by the dairy industry in conjunction with the Victorian state government. These give dairy farmers information on recommended management practices and environmental responsibilities. They are an important tool for farmers, industry service providers and government agencies in understanding best practice for on-farm dairy effluent management and potential reuse.


Effluent management tools and information

Page last updated on 30 Mar 2016