Many people believe that throwing an irrigation system can be done by anyone, but being naive about this question could land you in a lot of trouble.
In Victoria, there are multiple governing bodies who may have their say in the way an irrigation system is designed and installed and may require you to have a licence, certification or permit to install irrigation to a certain property
So here is a list (there may be more that I haven’t thought of) of the main organisations that may be very interested in your irrigation system
1.) The Victorian Building Authority
The VBA govern the plumbing aspects of an Irrigation Installation in Victoria, they set, govern and police the licencing and registration of urban irrigation practitioners in Victoria, they enforce plumbing regulations and plumbing compliance.
With irrigation, they are super interested in Backflow prevention, Materials standards, Workmanship and enforcing AS/NZS plumbing standards. The VBA requires licencing and registration of irrigation installers, they require installers to submit compliance certificates, have insurances and work to minimum standards.
2.) Your local water authority
When it comes to your irrigation system your local water authority are interested in protecting their assets and the safety of the people who use their water infrastructure. They are interested in backflow prevention, the use of alternative water sources on your site and ensuring that your water service is only providing irrigation to your title. You may need permission from a water authority to install an irrigation system – particularly if you are using recycled water onsite. If you are using recycled water onsite you probably should let them know as they will want to inspect your work during construction. *WATCH OUT! if you don’t get inspections, your irrigation system may be deemed non-compliant and you may not be allowed to use it! Also, the water authority may require you to install the system to a higher standard than other Authorities. Meaning – you may meet the VBA requirements with your install but you didn’t meet the water authority requirement. (Example, The VBA may allow you to use lilac striped poly for an installation, whereas a water authority may require solid lilac poly. I have heard of projects worth 6 figures being torn out due to a misunderstanding of this regulation)
Your local water authority may also require you to have Environmental Management Plans (EMP) or Environmental Improvement Plans (EIP) prior to carrying out installations.
One major thing to watch out for with water authorities is the New Customer Contribution Fees (NCC) , These are fees you pay when you connect a new water service to a site. The NCC fees are generally listed in a pricing guide on the water authorities website, they can be hard to read. We recently paid over $13,000.00 for a connection to a property we installed an irrigation system on. A number of years back I saw a figure of $80,000.00 for NCC fees.
Water Authorities also have some say about your watering window (when you are allowed to water)
3.) Your local council
Some councils may be interested in your irrigation system if you are wanting to water your nature strip, also pump sheds/housings may have colour requirements or need permits, Councils also require road opening permits when working in nature strips or on roads.
Service Authorities – if you do a DBYD application for your site there may be requirements for the way you excavate around services or what can be installed over/adjacent to a service
The EPA – Depending on your class of recycled water, you may need to follow EPA guidelines
Melbourne/Southern Rural water – If you are working in a flood area or near authority assets, you may need permission to install an irrigation system.
Your customer’s specifications – As long as your client isn’t asking you to break the rules, they have a right to ask for their system to be installed at a higher standard, if they want the pipe buried deeper than the minimum standard – so be it, If they want timber frames under their valve boxes – they can ask for that.
Irrigation best practice guidelines – These are guidelines for installation set by different associations. Irrigation Australia have One, The Nursery Industry Association have one and there a probably a few that exist that I don’t know about
This list isn’t comprehensive, but it should tell you that you can’t just go and “throw an irrigation system in”, there is a reason that legislation and governing exist. I encourage you to do your own research on this topic I(f you are planning on installing an irrigation system,) Or you could engage Ecostream as consultants on your next project.