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NSW Water Quality and River Flow Objectives -
helping to consider community values for water quality in decision making

What are the NSW Water Quality and River Flow Objectives?

The NSW Water Quality Objectives are the agreed environmental values and long-term goals for NSW's surface waters. They set out:

Water Quality Objectives have been agreed for Fresh and Estuarine surface waters (follow the catchment links above) and Marine Water Quality Objectives.

The Objectives are consistent with the agreed national framework for assessing water quality set out in the ANZECC 2000 Guidelines. These guidelines provide an agreed framework to assess water quality in terms of whether the water is suitable for a range of environmental values (including human uses). The Water Quality Objectives provide environmental values for NSW waters and the ANZECC 2000 Guidelines provide the technical guidance to assess the water quality needed to protect those values.

The River Flow Objectives are the agreed high-level goals for surface water flow management. They identify the key elements of the flow regime that protect river health and water quality for ecosystems and human uses.

How can the Water Quality and River Flow Objectives help decision-making?

The Water Quality Objectives and the ANZECC 2000 Guidelines can help decision makers consider water quality in both big picture strategic planning (i.e. Catchment Action Plans and Regional Strategies) and at the local level in assessing impacts of developments. They help assess the state of our catchments, identify and prioritise risks and threats, develop management action plans, and direct on-ground investment to deal with water quality 'hotspots'.

The Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) has developed guidance materials to help catchment management authorities, local councils, and water quality managers use and apply the Objectives in catchment and strategic planning processes. DEC has also developed a guide to using and interpreting the ANZECC 2000 Guidelines in NSW, introducing the key concepts and explaining some of the key terminology of the guidelines in a NSW context - see guidance materials.

How do the Objectives relate to the Natural Resource Management Reforms?

These Objectives are consistent with, and complementary to the statewide targets developed by the Natural Resources Commission. The Natural Resources Commission (NRC) has developed a statewide standard and targets for managing natural resources. These take into account the community's established values and goals for natural resources, including those for water. The Catchment Action Plans (CAPs) being developed by CMAs will include regional targets consistent with the statewide standard and targets prepared by the NRC. For each catchment, the standards and targets will provide a framework to guide work towards more long-term goals, such as the Water Quality Objectives.

Guidance for CMAs, councils, industry and community

National Technical Guidelines

This page last updated 28 June 2006