| 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 coastal river systems and estuaries. These include sewer overflows and leaks, stormwater, excessive nutrient inputs, algal blooms, acid sulfate soils and declining fish populations.
The community and Government have taken important steps towards attaining healthier rivers. Much has been achieved. By having clearly defined, consistent objectives, we will be able to better focus current actions and to plan for new ones.
The Government has already put in place a $3 billion Waterways Program to clean up sewage and stormwater in urban areas. Many of its water reforms have been implemented, including introducing a better balance in the sharing of water between users and the environment, coordinating water monitoring programs, and assessing the stress on rivers and aquifers. 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
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. The objectives are based on measurable environmental values for protecting aquatic ecosystems, recreation, visual amenity, drinking water and agricultural water. See Water Quality Objectives explained.
The twelve coastal River Flow Objectives deal with the way 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. See River Flow Objectives explained.
These guidelines on environmental objectives are intended mainly for local councils, Catchment Management Authorities and state agencies to consider and include in strategic, catchment and land use planning processes.
By integrating the objectives into the planning activities of river management committees, river management plans will help the community to achieve an acceptable balance between environmental, social and economic needs.
The Government has announced that the Healthy Rivers Commission will conduct an inquiry into the Hunter River.
In late 1997, the NSW Government released discussion papers, the 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. These were attended by more than 4000 people. 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 Hunter River catchment.
This page was published 1 May 2006