Environment Protection (Water Quality) Policy
What the policy is about
The Environment Protection (Water Quality) Policy 2015 provides the structure for regulation and management of water quality in South Australian inland surface waters, marine waters and groundwaters.
The main objective of the Water Quality Policy is linked to the Environment Protection Act 1993 (the Act):
"...to ensure that all reasonable and practicable measures are taken to protect, restore and enhance the quality of the environment while having regard to the principles of ecologically sustainable development"
The Policy specifically provides support to the Act in terms of:
- what constitues environmental harm (section 5 in the Act)
- what are the general environmental duty requirements (section 25 in the Act)
- what are the mandatory provisions which constitute offences (section 34 in the Act)
The policy also:
- declares environmental values for the protection of streams, rivers, oceans and groundwater.
- encourages better management of wastewater by:
- avoiding its production
- eliminating, or reducing it
- recycling and re-using it
- treating it to reduce potential harm to the environment
- promotes best practice environmental management.
- allows for discharge limits for particular activities to be established.
Any person, business or industry that fails to comply with the Policy may receive an on-the-spot fine, an environment protection order, and/or face prosecution in court.
Polluting activities which are offences under the policy include washing a vehicle on the street, washing animal faeces into a stormwater drain, and allowing dirt from a building site to enter the stormwater system.
National Water Quality Guidelines
The Policy refers to the Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality (ANZECC 2000) as part of the guidance regarding the general environmental duty. In this context, the ANZECC guidelines are used as trigger values for aquatic ecosystems and primary industries. These trigger values indicate where the receiving environment is potentially at risk of being harmed and so a site-specific investigation may be required to assess the risk and/or evaluate options for environmental performance improvement.
The EPA is also taking part in a national project to revise the ANZECC guidelines.
For further information about the Water Quality Policy see:
- Explanatory report
- What's new in the policy
- Presentation on key clauses in the policy (Powerpoint)
- What can you do to help the water environment?
- Map of the Water Protection Areas in South Australia
Authorities that may enforce the Water Quality Policy include the Environment Protection Authority, local councils and other government authorities.