| Contents | Background |
Consultation | Objectives | WQOs | RFOs | Glossary
| Bibliography | Map |
The NSW Government has brought in wide-ranging reforms to ensure the long-term health of all our waterways. We need action now for a healthy future for both our environment and our economy.
Environmental problems are widespread in our river systems and, in many cases, also affect regional economic development. These problems include algal blooms, rising salinity, carp, and declining numbers of native fish. NSW also needs to meet its inter-governmental obligations to improve river health, such as in the Murray-Darling basin.
The community and Government have taken important steps towards attaining healthier rivers. Much has been achieved. Clearly defined, consistent objectives will allow us to direct current actions better and plan for new ones.
The Government has already implemented many of its water reforms, including introducing a better balance in sharing water between users and the environment, statewide groundwater and weir policies, regular monitoring programs, and assessing the stress on each stream and aquifer. Information on the water reforms and natural resource management reforms can be found at the website of the Department of Natural Resources www.dnr.nsw.gov.au
Improving river flow and water quality are prime objectives for healthier rivers. Establishing these objectives is a major undertaking if we are to cover all NSW rivers and estuaries and develop and implement mechanisms to achieve the objectives. To meet this challenge, the Government has a complementary, two-part process for developing environmental objectives. One part involves providing interim environmental objectives to guide early river management planning and action. The other involves independent inquiries by the Healthy Rivers Commission in individual catchments to recommend longer-term environmental objectives and practical strategies to achieve them.
The Water Quality and River Flow Objectives set out in these pages have been developed to guide plans and actions to achieve healthy waterways.
Up to eleven Water Quality Objectives apply. Each is based on providing the right water quality for the environment and the different uses people have for water. They are based on measurable environmental values for protecting aquatic ecosystems, recreation, visual amenity, drinking water and agricultural water. Section 4 gives a more detailed explanation of how to use water quality objectives.
Each of the eleven inland River Flow Objectives deals with how water moves down rivers and streams. Each objective aims to improve river health by recognising the importance of natural river flow patterns. The Objectives are based on achieving improved environmental results from managing the riverine system. Section 5 gives more detail.
These guidelines on environmental objectives are intended mainly for river, water and groundwater committees to consider and include in their river management plans. The committees are responsible for developing the river flow, water quality and groundwater action plans needed to achieve the agreed environmental objectives. The committees have the opportunity to recommend revision, refinement and expansion of the interim objectives to ensure the long-term health of the waterways in their catchment. Any fundamental change will need the NSW Government's approval through the Minister for the Environment and the Minister for Land and Water Conservation.
Integration of the Objectives into strategic, catchment and land use planning activities will help the community to achieve an acceptable balance between environmental, social and economic needs.
Interim environmental objectives will apply until the NSW Government either
In late 1997, the NSW Government released discussion papers called Proposed Interim Environmental Objectives for NSW Waters (EPA 1997) as the basis for a six-month community consultation. The papers gave options for interim River Flow and Water Quality Objectives in each catchment, including broad economic evaluations, as a basis for discussion.
Seeking the opinions of communities was essential. More than fifty community discussion meetings and nine special Aboriginal community meetings were held. More than 4000 people attended. The Government received 810 written submissions, and river and catchment management committees gave valuable feedback on the draft objectives.
See the summary of community comment on the guidelines for the Gwydir River catchment.
This page was published 1 May 2006|